Gregory P. Schwartz

Challenges his team to boost customer service

USAA is a financial services company serving nearly 8 million active, discharged or retired military personnel and their families who are literally located all around the world. Given that reach, Senior Vice President and CIO Greg Schwartz says IT plays an essential role in delivering products and services.

His team gets that message loud and clear.

"He sees our job as serving the customer, and customer service is a big part of what he challenges us to do," says CTO Rickey Burks, who also praises Schwartz for his business acumen and technical expertise.

The San Antonio-based company once did business in person, by mail and over the phone; now 86% of its interactions are electronic. Statistics like that are a sign of continual IT innovation, Schwartz says.

Consider the evolution of check deposits. In 2006, the company rolled out systems that allowed members to deposit checks at home using scanners. Then, in 2009, IT staffers developed an application that lets members use camera phones to photograph checks for instant deposit. USAA was the first company to deploy such technology.

Schwartz, 49, credits his team for such successful innovations. "People are really our most important asset here," he says, explaining that he looks for job candidates who want to build a career at USAA and have a passion for the organization's mission.

"We're a big IT shop," he says. "We're doing a lot of creative things. We're aligned with our business."

Mary K. Pratt is a Computerworld contributing writer in Waltham, Mass. Contact her at

Next: Return to the full list of 2011 honorees

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

Bing’s AI chatbot came to work for me. I had to fire it.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon