At Barings, IT culture change pays dividends

Sometimes enterprise require a culture shake-up — or at least a culture harmonization, as Barings CIO Andy Lennon learned when he accepted the challenge of unifying up 5 organizations under on tech umbrella.

Culture is the hardest thing to change in a global enterprise, especially when it isn’t unified. Barings CIO Andrew Lennon tackled this task when he agreed to band together five disparate IT organizations with a goal to create higher value through self-service capabilities.

“We needed a cultural overhaul within IT,” says Lennon, who accepted the challenge at the MassMutual-owned financial services subsidiary in 2016. "We want to be value creators and partners with not only our business but our clients."

The change required Barings' IT to evolve from the traditional service provider to an equal partner capable of collaborating to create value. Value co-creation between IT and the business was a hot topic at the MIT CIO Sloan Symposium in May 2019, where IT leaders were game to buck tradition. As McKinsey Digital partner Belkis Vasquez-McCall noted during a Symposium panel discussion, "In the past, the business defined how to solve a problem and looked to IT to solve it. Now IT executives are co-defining the problem and leading the evolution around defining a solution."  

Put another way, it's no longer enough for CIOs to align IT strategies to business needs; now they must co-create solutions that serve customers. It's an ethos Lennon has adopted as he enters his fourth year leading IT at Barings, whose integration of Babson Capital Management, Cornerstone Real Estate, Wood Creek Capital Management and Baring Asset Management and its 2018 acquisition of Triangle Capital have created a global asset manager north of $300 billion. Lennon sees his IT investments as paramount for helping augment humans with technology, ultimately to drive margins and boost the bottom line.

First step: Insourcing

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