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