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Premier 100 IT Leader: Kathy Fuertes

Premier 100 IT Leader: Kathy Fuertes

A major group reorganization led by this IT leader started with collaboration and alignment of goals.

Kathy Fuertes knows investment management firm Vanguard inside and out, having spent 17 years there in several IT roles before taking the helm of the Institutional Systems team in January 2013. So when Vanguard's Institutional Investment Group devised a multiyear technology program to help transform its business, she knew what to do.

As one of the investment group's key partners, Fuertes reorganized IT to best serve the new program. She began by collaborating with her senior leadership team to develop five guiding principles: clear alignment with Vanguard programs, cost effectiveness, common team visions and goals, flexible and sustainable models, and a mission to leverage Vanguard's broader technology.

Next, she grouped three major functions -- business technology planning, business architecture and technology architecture -- into one department to serve as, in her words, "the IT department's front door." That way, she explains, "they can align our near-term business technology programs with our long-term technology architecture goals, and then set up that work for other parts of our organization to deliver on."

Whenever possible, she colocated IT and business teams so they could collaborate easily. That led to several successful projects, including Vanguard's Enroll Now program, a full-service technology-based initiative to enhance participant education and outcomes. The IT department's participant technology team worked alongside their business counterparts to make that project a success.

One year into the reorganization, "the results have been really impressive," Fuertes says. "We're driving strong innovative solutions into the institutional business" and fostering "a culture of possibilities."

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