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Northwestern Mutual CIO Schaefer Drives Greater Maturity

Tim Schaefer will leverage the experience of a wide-ranging career within Northwestern Mutual to shepherd the carrier's IT organization to new levels of maturity.

Tim Schaefer's career at Northwestern Mutual has ranged over a variety of technology and business responsibilities, including roles in the carrier's customer service and life claims and benefits area, as well as his most recent role as head of application delivery and support. As Northwestern Mutual's CIO as of April 2008, Schaefer is charged with driving execution of a strategic IT plan activated in mid-2007 that focuses on bringing the IT organization to a higher level of solutions and systems delivery maturity and business process enablement.

"There's increasing interest in the company toward adding new capabilities or completely replacing some business processes with things such as paperless capabilities for our underwriters, and enhanced field force functionality from a customer management and planning standpoint," Schaefer relates.

Schaefer will also address the challenge of maintaining workforce capacity at a time when Northwestern Mutual continues to increase its investment in IT solutions. "We're looking to maintain our pace in building the talent that we need in the organization to deliver on that," Schaefer comments. He will also oversee a new initiative involving the delegation of "relationship advocates" that the IT organization has assigned to specific business units.

In anticipation of his promotion as CIO, Schaefer was himself accorded a novel role designed to foster business/IT alignment with his appointment as an executive officer of Northwestern Mutual. Karl Gouverneur, vice president and chief technology architect was also named an executive officer earlier this year, and he and Schaefer represent IT in that capacity. Schaefer interprets the appointments as evidence of the leadership's recognition of the strategic importance of IT. "Over the years we've continued to expand the organization rather than contract it, and there's a genuine understanding of what IT does to enable the business to achieve its results," he remarks.

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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