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CIO Values: Avid Modjtabai, Executive VP And CIO Of Wells Fargo

Career Track
Avid Modjtabai

Avid Modjtabai
Executive VP and CIO, Wells Fargo

How long at current company: 14 years

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: All of my roles at Wells Fargo, from running Internet banking to being head of HR, have meant a lot to me. I'm proud to manage such an integral function for the company. I've learned so much, and I inherited a great team--it's a privilege to work with them.

Most important career influencers: My parents have been the greatest influence on my career. My father gave me the determination to demand the best from myself. From my mother, I learned compassion and tolerance. Wells Fargo chairman Dick Kovacevich and CEO John Stumpf took chances on me and gave me opportunities to grow professionally.

Decision I wish I could do over: I once took a role in investment banking, and while I enjoyed the challenge and hard work, I also found it too individual-achievement-oriented. I missed the power and fun of working with a great team.


The next big thing for my business will be ... tough times and making difficult decisions. When this time passes, customers will reward the financial institutions that maintained their values. Firms that didn't will likely lose business.

Advice for future CIOs: Always focus on the customer's requirements--don't do technology for technology's sake. Tie programs to measurable business results. Never underestimate the importance of the team. Finally, be open to change--it's coming anyway, so you might as well be prepared.

On The Job

IT budget (approximate): $2 billion

Size of IT team: About 6,000

Top three initiatives:

  • We set aggressive goals to provide better availability by radically reducing outages in the mainframe, network, and open systems infrastructure.
  • Streamlining our internal processes to manage costs and expedite time to market.
  • Fostering a great culture for team members and focusing on employee engagement.

How I measure IT effectiveness: We have the standard financial and technical measures, but also try to manage perception. We instituted an internal partner survey to get feedback, which is critical to help us drive alignment with the businesses we support.


Colleges/degrees: Stanford University, BS, industrial engineering; Columbia University, MBA

Best book read recently: The graphic novel Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi. It had a lot of significance to me, given my Iranian background.

Leisure activity: Skiing with my 84-year-old father, who's always the first one on the lift in the morning and the last one off in the evening.