Interview: Filippo Passerini (Head, P&G GBS)

In an interview, Filippo Passerini spoke about the changes wrought by him at P&G and how he transformed P&G and the company transformed him.This story was published in the Dataquest Magazine.


One of our strategies has been to anticipate the future, to stay ahead of the change

In his 27 years at P&G, one thing has been constant for Filippo Passerini; his quench for thirst and his pursuit of excellence. And in these years, he has held a series of leadership positions the UK, Greece, Italy, the U.S., Latin America and Turkey before taking the leadership of P&G’s Global Business Services (GBS) organization.

GBS is responsible for providing key business support and solutions to 138,000 P&G employees working in over 80 countries worldwide.  In addition to IT, the services provided include finance and accounting, employee services, strategic sourcing, facilities management and consumer relations.

Hailing from the ancient and wondrous city of Rome, Passerini has earned his Doctorate in Statistics & Operating Research. On being asked about his passion, pat he replies, “I am passionate about learning, as I believe you always can do better or do more. Lessons can be learned in every aspect of your life+.  In my youth, I used to play competitive chess. This taught me that you can only think so long; at some point, you need to move. This lesson is extremely relevant to the work we do in GBS. In a world that is accelerating faster than ever before, we must be able to develop our strategies — and act — quickly.” Little wonder, till date, GBS already has saved the company more than $600 million through shared services alone.

Climbing his way through the corporate world, Passerini is an avid mountaineer in his real life as well. He has scaled three peaks higher than 15,000 feet. He lives with his family in the US, working in P&G’s Cincinnati headquarters. In an extensive interaction with Dataquest, Passerini talks about the various issues that are critical to success of a company that was founded way back in 1837 and currently has 23 brands that have more than $1 billion in net annual sales and another 18 have sales between $500 million and $1 billion. Excerpts.

How is IT used to string together a mammoth enterprise like P&G that spreads across over 80 countries and having an employee base of over 138,000?
When we set out on our journey we had a clear IT vision. We wanted to bring the back office to the boardroom – leveraging IT as a driver for business transformation and growth. The approach we took was global, holistic and founded on partnership. First, we looked beyond IT, positioning ourselves as the “go to” organization for all key business services. Today, our Global Business Services organization covers over 85 services in the areas of employee services, finance and accounting, strategic sourcing, facilities management and consumer relations too. Secondly, we decided early to globalize our operations. Just as an indicator we standardized 72 systems in 70 markets in just 3 years and focused work in 6 global service and data centers. Finally, we reached out to grow relationships with strategic partners who support us in our work. Our IT partnership with HP is a great example here. Together, we have not only achieved above-projection cost savings with better services, we have also been able to tap into HP’s innovation capabilities and become much more agile. Continue reading

Interview: Bob Rickert (CIO, Barclays)

In an interview, Barclay’s CIO Bob Rickert spoke about his own experiences with IT and banking. This story was published in the Dataquest Magazine.

I am willing to outsource the doing but not the thinking

For Bob Rickert, cooking is more than a hobby. In his free time, he can be seen in his kitchen tossing up salads or fashioning up new cuisines and dishes, especially so for his 15-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter. The best thing about cooking is that you get to know immediately whether you did a good job or not because people will either eat your dishes or they wont. There is no two-ways about it, says Rickert.

Rickert uses the same fundamentals of feedback and response as he heads the IT department of one the top twenty companies, according to Forbes Global 2000 rankings, Barclays. He is CIO, Global Retail and Commercial Banking (GRCB) Technology, Barclays. Rickerts responsibility is to lead 7,000 IT colleagues globally to deliver IT capabilities and support for GRCB.

Starting his career at IBM, Rickert has taken up quite a few challenging roles in the design and development of technology before switching over to manage the IT systems at KeyCorp, the eleventh largest bank in the US. It has been around two years since Rickert has joined Barclays and is leading the charge in terms of making the organization more oriented toward customer needs and wants. To be successful, we need to understand that the reason we exist is to support Barclays customers and all the great technical wizardry is of no use if it is not creating value for our customers, he adds.

In an extensive interaction with Dataquest, Rickert talks about different aspects of IT management and what it takes to lead a major financial institution like Barclays. Excerpts

How do you think has the banking sector embraced technology? Was it willingly or was it coerced, due to legislations, etc?
The banking sector has embraced technology very aggressively and willingly. Many vendors would say that financial institutions are leaders in terms of technology adoption and usage. We at Barclays are focused on providing great service to our users and given just the volume of transactions, one would want to automate as much as possible. A company would like to maintain a consistent quality of service, which is hard to get if you rely on manual processes. This sort of philosophical approach is universal across the financial services industry, hence, banks and their likes are very much leaders in technology adoption.

How strategic is IT to the change management process, considering that the company has a history that goes back four centuries? Continue reading