15 Feb American Family restructures information services; Chapman to assume VP operations lead
Madison, Wis. – Citing the results of company research, American Family Insurance has restructured its information services division to create two leadership positions, and current vice president of information services Byrne Chapman has been reassigned to one of those leadership positions – a vice president’s role that will oversee technology operations and infrastructure.
As a result, Dane County’s largest business in terms of annual revenue will be looking to fill the position of vice president of IS-chief information officer.
After researching the technology leadership structures at other Fortune 500 companies, American Family decided to restructure IS because such organizations require an intense focus on both business strategy and operational excellence, according to Rick Fetherston, vice president of public relations.
“We determined that it’s impossible for one technology executive to handle both jobs,” Fetherston said. “Byrne had 14 direct reports, and that’s impossible. He now will have eight direct reports, and the CIO will have six.”
American Family, which has an annual IT budget in the hundreds of millions of dollars, reported $6.8 billion in revenue in 2006, placing it 338th on the 2007 Fortune 500 list. It also contracts with nearly 4,000 independent agents and employs more than 8,200 people in actuarial services, financial services, information services, and other professional areas.
In addition to its Madison headquarters and numerous claims offices, it has regional facilities in Columbus, Ohio, Denver, Colo., Eden Prairie, Minn., and St. Joseph, Mo.
Fetherston said Chapman has done an excellent job trying to handle both the strategic and operational areas, but the company feels his strengths are best aligned with the technology operations and infrastructure role.
“They are two very distinct positions,” he said. “Our senior management has determined that it’s impossible for one person to fulfill those two roles.”
Chapman, who has managed the IS division since 1999, could not be reached for comment prior to publication. During his tenure, American Family has made Computerworld’s ranking of “Best Places to Work for in IT.”
Fetherston said the company would conduct a broad, outside search for a CIO with a business and strategic orientation and an external focus. The person would be responsible for interpreting market trends and identifying strategies to use technology in ways that give American Family a competitive advantage.
David Anderson, chairman and CEO for American Family, once served as the company’s chief information officer.
• Northwestern Mutual, American Family make Computerworld’s best IT workplaces
• Fusion 2007: CA chief says IT complexity raises risk
• Mike Klein: Are your business and technology goals aligned?
• CIO Leadership Series: Byrne Chapman, American Family Insurance
• Byron Glick: American Family CIO takes entrepreneurial approach to innovation