“No technology, no business.”
That is the mantra Capital Group's new Chief Information Officer (CIO), Marta Zarraga, shared when describing what a foundational enabler technology is to the success of the company's business.
Julie St. John, recently retired President and CIO of Investment Operations and Information Technology described the two-year search to find the company's next CIO: “It was a long search! We wanted someone that was a strong people leader and collaborator, as well as an engineer. That trifecta was hard to find, but we want all of you to know, as soon as we met Marta, we knew she was the one. She has great experience, loves to develop people and believes in diversity.”
With 24 years of industry experience, Marta joined Capital Group in late 2020, overseeing technology and cyber security. Prior to that, she was the global CIO at Aviva, and also served as CIO at Vodafone and British Telecom. She holds a master’s degree in computer engineering from Universidad de Deusto in Spain.
When asked what drew her to Capital Group she shared, “Technology is foundational to Capital Group’s business. As the company continues to focus on expanding and strengthening its services to investors, data and technology remain critical enablers. It is a phenomenal opportunity to join a company that is so committed to its mission of improving people’s lives and so committed to its associates. I am excited to leverage new technologies to help achieve that mission.”
“Becoming a CIO was something natural in my career.”
With each opportunity, Marta never stops learning and never underestimates challenges. Marta has worked in Technology all of her career, her first job was as a developer (being one of the very few females in her department) and through the years, she has performed a lot of the jobs within a CIO organization. She believes this is incredibly important as these experiences help her relate closely to the teams. She can personally share stories and relate to the challenges, the wins, the hard work, and the excitement of everybody working in her organization.
Adaptability has become a hallmark of Marta’s leadership style as through her career, she has learned that every organization, market and industry have different dynamics, characteristics and demands that require different styles. Through the years she has had to adapt to very operational, strategic and highly regulated environments even though Business Transformation enabled by Technology has been a constant through her career.
Marta has experienced the power of diversity in her teams and knows that hiring technologists from different cultures, ethnicities, backgrounds, and experiences brings richness into an organization and exponentially increases performance. Gender is a big gap in the field of technology, which is why she feels passionate about hiring, retaining, coaching and promoting women.
“I have been a CIO in very large global corporations before. Having said that, this is a new industry for me, a new company, a very different culture…and if not for COVID, it would have been a new continent and country as well. I do not underestimate the exciting journey to learn and adapt to all these changes.”
Marta doesn’t underestimate the amount of change she is navigating at this point in both her career and personal life. She’s met most of her global team and colleagues via video and is having to build relationships and set agendas not only virtually but also working across multiple time zones. Currently based in London, with much of her team in California, she has created a routine that allows her to balance work, her personal life and her well-being.
While starting a new position during a global pandemic is not ideal, Marta truly believes it is making her a better individual and a better professional. She is taking the opportunity this environment is providing to really make every single interaction productive, valuable and memorable. A challenge, but one that is really helping her focus on human interactions.
One silver lining with this remote environment, is that she’s been able to connect with a variety of Capital Group’s women’s employee resource groups across the globe. Whether she is a guest speaker at a moderated chat or attending a female-centric event as a participant, she is eager to support her associate’s growth and connection. She’s a social person who is looking forward to in-person human interaction, eye contact and sharing face-to -face experiences with colleagues once Capital Group returns to the office.
“I truly believe in mentors and coaches. People who are direct, supportive and that constructively and positively provide feedback that can help you be successful.”
Marta acknowledges having been very fortunate through her career as she’s had mentors and coaches that have supported her all the way through. These relationships have been very positive in her professional and personal life and many of these people have become her friends over time. One of the secrets of making mentorship and coaching successful is showing your true you, humility and personal commitment. She is of the belief that constructive feedback is a gift and an enabler to move forward.
Marta also notes that mentors and coaches serve different purposes. She defines mentors as people within the same organization who help you unlock your potential to become successful in that particular organization. They help you understand the company culture and link your potential with the needs of the current environment. These conversations can help you adapt to your organization while still being your true self.
She considers coaches as external professionals who help you grow. Coaches can help you identify your areas for development and share new practices and approaches to help round out your capabilities. Being humble, open and resilient to accept feedback is the hallmark of a leader. Marta admits that as professionals we all need a certain amount of reassurance and in moments of doubt she says to herself, “If you want, you can. It is within my reach.”
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