by Lauren Gibbons Paul

20/20 HONOREES – Andrea Anania

Oct 01, 20022 mins

Executive Vice President and CIO

Cigna Corp.

Talk about not pulling any punches. After being named Cigna’s corporate CIO in 1998, Andrea Anania addressed the more than 3,000 employees whom she would now lead, saying, “You are probably all wondering, Am I a good witch or a bad witch?” A slide of Glinda the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch of the West underscored her point.

“Those who have worked with me know I can be a tough customer,” she continued, as the snickers in the audience died down. “That’s because Cigna’s customers are tough, and I want to address their needs. When we meet and exceed our customers’ expectations, I am Glinda the Good. If we don’t, you don’t want to know.”

It was a worthy opening for a woman who would soon transform the health-care giant’s fragmented IT organization into a lean, cohesive unit. Instead of yellow bricks, the road to this Oz would be paved with resistant employees and an entrenched bureaucracy. She would abolish structural barriers among IT staff and create a community split into five IT specialist “practices.” She believed the structure would help IT deliver more efficient enterprise solutions internally while enabling customer-facing products externally. None of that would occur overnight. “This was a three-year strategy. We had to communicate very clearly that this was not a strategy du jour,” says Anania, 49.

Her boss, Chairman and CEO H. Edward Hanway, began looking for the new generation of IT projects. He was not disappointed. Last year, Cigna, based in Philadelphia, gave its consumers full access to their accounts online. This summer, Anania’s group took that one step further with the rollout of, a free, personalized Web portal for the company’s 16 million health and retirement plan users.

Anania’s biggest contribution at Cigna, she says, has been the ability to see drastic changes that needed to be made before IT could deliver responsive solutions. “I can take a step back from the day-to-day and think about how things need to be done a few years out,” she muses. Anania can still take a hard line when she needs to, but for now it’s Good Witch all the way.