Premier 100: Jumbo Projects, Big Risks

The bigger the project, the bigger the risk. These IT leaders kept up with multiple stakeholders and deadlines.

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For an online brokerage like Scottrade, which also boasts 311 branch offices, gathering data and managing and executing trades is a business that requires a state-of-the-art data center where downtime isn't an option.

In light of that, Patterson believes his greatest contribution to the 12-month project was communicating each person's role and reminding them how much their contributions were appreciated.

"IT is a Rodney Dangerfield-type job," says Patterson, who left a consulting role at Deloitte & Touche LLP to become Scottrade's CIO in July 2005. "It was really about letting everyone feel and understand that I was there" to support them, he adds.

To ensure that the transition between data centers didn't affect customers, Patterson and his team worked closely with AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. to set up 10 Gigabit Ethernet pipes spanning the eight miles between the two data centers.

That kind of contingency planning paid off. Scottrade works with about 20 "market makers" — broker-dealer firms that hold shares of a given security in order to facilitate trades. Each of them owns and runs its own data lines into the online brokerage. When Scottrade was ready to go live with the new data center in May, some of the market makers didn't have their communications lines ready. "So we used those redundant lines to transfer their traffic," explains Patterson.

The new data center is "essential" to Scottrade's capacity to offer new products and services, says President and CEO Rodger Riney, who sponsored the project.

Patterson's ability "to motivate and lead our IT staff," he says, "has been key to the successful completion and integration" of the new data center.

Dwight D. Smith
Senior vice president of information resources, Marriott Vacation Club International, Orlando

  • Project at a glance: Marriott Vacation Club International's IT organization moved quickly to identify, select and implement a points-based reservation system to help support a business decision to rapidly expand MVCI's presence in the Asia-Pacific time-share market.

  • Signature leadership move: Played the diplomat to ensure that all voices were heard in the priority-setting process.

In late 2005, when Smith, 46, became involved in a fast-track project to support MVCI's expansion plans in the Asia-Pacific region, his biggest responsibilities were centered around balancing the priorities of key stakeholders.

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