Saul Van Beurden is the Head of Technology for Wells Fargo, a role he has had for nearly two years, after having spent time as the Chief Information Officer of Consumer and Community Banking at JPMorgan Chase. He commands a budget of roughly $9 billion and has a team of 40,000 technologists reporting to him. His purview includes all software developments, IT operations, infrastructure and cloud enablement and cybersecurity. His is a role of tremendous consequence in the bank to say the least.
The top technologists at major companies are most often referred to as chief information officers. They are sometimes referred to as chief technology officers or as chief digital officers. The “head of technology” title is an unusual one. When asked how the company and he arrived at it, he noted that the reason was that when he joined, there was already a chief information officer and a chief technology officer, both of whom would report to him. “For me, it’s not important the title of a role,” noted Van Beurden. “It’s how you act on that role and the responsibility that you have [that is more important].”
Upon joining the company, Van Beurden elected to develop a plan to play both “offense and defense,” as he put it, comparing it to coaching an American football team. “The first role is what you could call the defensive role and is the first operator role,” he said. “This is all about making sure that the plan runs, that the things go. The second role is an offensive role. This is what we call the business enabler role, where it’s more about how do you decrease risk for the bank? How do you maximize revenue? How do you get better return on investments?”
To bring this to life, early in his tenure, Van Beurden and his team defined what he refers to as a “6S Strategy.” They are:
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