The Era of the IT Executive: 25 CIOs Speak Their Minds
Chief Information Officer
Bahl & Gaynor
How does your vision of IT support Bahl & Gaynor’s core values?
Glenn Warden: One of the core values at Bahl & Gaynor is to provide outrageous customer service for our clients every day. Our goal is to be known as the company with the best customer service in the financial investment industry. The promise we make to our clients is that we’ll work harder for them than anyone else so that they can have the means for a richer experience of life. We enhance their value so that they can do things like pay for college, go on family vacations, retire early or leave behind an inheritance. Our mantra is “dividends pay dividends.” We live by this. We buy stocks that pay dividends and then we grow them. We help people make money so that they can enjoy an easier lifestyle.
How does this translate with IT? Some IT departments rate success as “keeping the lights on and making things work.” My mission, though, is to also provide outrageous customer service to my clients, the Bahl & Gaynor employees. I work hard to maintain a strategic vision for the infrastructure here and then try and put into place the most effective and efficient tools so we track towards this vision. My No. 1 job is to make their jobs easier.
Of course, there are also a lot of things that IT does for the investing clients from a technology standpoint, but my most direct clients are the people here. I work every day to provide outrageous customer service for them so they can provide outrageous customer service for our clients.
When people leave at the end of the day, our software is still tracking, updating and outputting. Our stocks work behind the scenes and so does our IT network. My job is to keep that network humming smoothly 24 hours a day. It’s not an easy task, but neither is theirs.
If we want our investing clients to have a better lifestyle by the way we invest their money, I want my clients to have a better lifestyle here at Bahl & Gaynor by the way we manage our IT.
How do you measure the success of your IT role?
I measure my success through our employees. That translates into making rounds and talking to each one of the business units and sitting with the traders. I want to hear their feedback and understand if they are happy with their work, and if our clients are happy with our products. At least once a year I go and sit in each office for 30-60 minutes. I ask them what they think about IT. Sometimes I send out open and anonymous surveys. I call it “IT therapy.” This is critical in order to understand our success and our weaknesses.
What is the relationship between IT and other business executives?
My goal has always been to build these relationships based on honesty and integrity. I think people at B&G know that I’ll provide honest recommendations with the big picture in mind. In the end, I’ll defer to my clients, but the principles are the same in every relationship in that they are all about trust. I want people to know I understand their needs, and that I have their best interests in mind.
Our clients trust Bahl & Gaynor with their investments. The managers at B&G also place their trust in IT when they hand over their operating systems, maintenance and the security of information. Without the IT systems running properly no one is working or trading or doing anything, so it’s a big responsibility that I don't take lightly.
In general, relationships are an ongoing process. I’m constantly working on them, constantly feeding them and making them better. It’s kind of like a marriage. You have to consistently work on it and give good effort to make it a good one.