CIO Survivors: Insurance IT Leaders Who Have Endured, and Why That Matters

Depending on the circumstances, a short CIO stint may be the best option for both the carrier and the executive in question. However, as we explore in this first issue of Insurance Innovation Reporter, there are significant advantages to CIO longevity and major disadvantages to short CIO tenure.

In this first issue of Insurance Innovation Reporter we profile three technology officers who have been in their CIO jobs for a decade or more. These individuals are remarkable in a variety of ways: they work for very large companies, they have weathered some of the most dramatic business and technology in recent decades, and they have personal qualities essential to the kind of success they’ve achieved. But they’re also remarkable for sheer longevity in their positions. Research conducted by Gartner in 2013 found that the average insurance CIO tenure is 3.9 years. In this issue, we explore why these three individuals have lasted so much longer, and what it means for a carrier to have CIOs of long or short duration. Our issue features profiles of three distinguished industry CIOs, their perspectives on the difference between hype and reality in technology evolution, and insights from leading industry observers about what it means for an insurer to have CIOs who do or do not last.

Depending on the circumstances, a short CIO stint may be the best option for both the carrier and the executive in question. An insurer that desperately needs to modernize its technology and a CIO who specializes in transformation make an excellent match, especially in times of rapid technological advancement. Industry observer acknowledge the legitimacy of both the “Mr. Fix-it” CIO who may go from transformation and the “steady state” technology officer whose acumen runs more to effective maintenance.

However, as we explore in the articles linked below, there are significant advantages to CIO longevity and real disadvantages to short CIO tenure. A given insurer may need different talent for different stages in its technological evolution, but it is critical to maintain continuity in technology strategy. Carriers that repeatedly change course tend to waste resources, often grossly. They fail to develop a long-term technology architecture, they make expensive changes more often than necessary and they tend to cause greater incompatibility and complexity in their technology environments. They interrupt relationships with external partners, and they have a harder time holding onto internal talent.

The Mr. (or Ms.) Fix-it technology officer will continue to be useful, even beyond insurers’ current need to transform. But as the industry ideal becomes one of future-proofing, the benefits CIO endurance are likely to become even more apparent


Why Insurance CIO Longevity Matters

Profiles in Longevity:

Listener, Leader, Mentor – Barbara Koster, Prudential Financial

Survivors: Mutual Interest – Mike Keller, Nationwide

Partner in Growth – Gary Scholten, Principal Financial Group


Hyped Technologies That Eventually Delivered – Principal Financial CIO

Proven Concepts Yield Next-Gen Trends – Nationwide CIO

Prudential CIO on Keeping Technology Fresh

Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For nearly two decades, he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at or (503) 936-2803.

Comments (2)

  1. Anthony–well done! It’s gratifying to see you complete your independence with this launch.

    Where else do you envision this pub ultimately living and being distributed from?

    Nice job.


    • Thanks much, Rob. I don’t foresee any change on where the publication lives and is distributed from, at least not in the short term. I am contemplating changes to the site over time, as well as distributing content from the site in emailed newsletters and downloadable PDFs.

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