Name a department at Wells Fargo & Company, and it's likely that Avid Modjtabai has held a senior position in it. From online personal finance services to human resources and consumer deposits, Modjtabai has been there, done that in her 14-year tenure at the company. Her experience has not gone unnoticed; in addition to being named one of the "most powerful women in banking" by US Banker, she also received accolades from the San Francisco Business Times as of one of the "100 most influential women in Bay Area business." Elizabeth Garone spoke to Modjtabai about her career and the benefit of moving across functions. Edited excerpts follow.
- Age: 46
- Hometown: Kentfield, California
- Current position: Executive vice president, director of Technology Information Group (chief information officer), Wells Fargo
- First job: Consulting at an investment firm in San Francisco
- Favorite job: Being CIO -- one of her most challenging jobs
- Education: BS in industrial engineering from Stanford University; MBA in finance from Columbia University
- Years in the industry: More than 20
- How I got here in 10 words or less: "Taking opportunities where I could grow, learn, and make a difference."
As director of Wells Fargo's Technology Information Group, what does your position entail?
I'm responsible for all the core technology activities of the company, including technology infrastructure, development of business applications and information security. Our team manages multiple large-scale data centers and provides 24/7 support for all of our operating platforms -- the voice and data networks, open systems environment, desktop support and all the other functions required to support that environment. We provide our lines of business with technology solutions to help them better support their customers, making sure that information is available to those who need it every time and any time we interact with a customer.
Do you consider yourself a techie?
I understand technology, but I don't see that as my primary role; there are plenty of exceptionally talented people on the team that understand technology far better than I do. I feel my role is to understand how technology impacts our business and contributes to business results. My job is to help our team members see everything through our customers' eyes. To create an environment for them to deliver high-quality technology, in the least amount of time, while maintaining strong cost management disciplines.
These days, 14 years at one company seems like quite a long time. But, in that time, you've held a number of different positions. Is that how you have been able to keep your work fresh?
I love Wells Fargo -- we have great leaders, great team members and a great culture. It is a very dynamic, innovative company, and every day new ideas emerge. I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to work in so many different roles.