John Parker will be leading the IT efforts at St. Louis-based brokerage firm A. G. Edwards. The chief information officer will be taking the reigns from the firm's five-year CIO-veteran, Mary Atkin, who will take the position of director of Corporate Strategy. Parker, who spent the last 18 months in the role of chief technology officer and assistant director of IT, says that his new position bears semblance to his former life of IT leadership in the airline industry. "(The airline industry) gave me a good understanding of mission-critical and real-time computing, as well as the tight margins that it operates in," he notes. "The verbs are the same from IT shop to IT shop. The difference is the nouns - why you're doing it and what the nuances are."
The head IT executive will lead his team of 1,600 to address key initiatives including overhauling the firm's back office, renewing branch technology and reworking fixed-income systems. In addition, he says there are plans to transform IT to align with business and view business movement through technology.
One argument Parker hopes to disprove is the idea that IT doesn't matter. "The traditional IT services have been commoditized by outsourced services firms," he concedes. "We must reposition the IT shop to be in a leadership position that helps business figure out how to use all this stuff. The one thing that is not commoditized is leadership in IT. That's where the magic is."