Executive Vice President of eCommerce, Mellon Financial
Degree: Bachelors degree from University of California at Los Angeles. Masters degree and doctorate in semiology from UCLA and attended the Graduate School of Management at UCLA
Car: Doesnt own one; lives and works in New York City
Stress reliever: Writing poetry and traveling
Janey Place is in charge of e-commerce at Mellon Financial, the Pittsburgh holding company with almost $3 trillion in assets. Prior to her appointment in May 1999, Place headed DigitalThinking, a consultancy she formed after leaving Bank of America where she had been executive vice president in charge of the strategic technology group. In her role as executive vice president, eCommerce, and co-president, Mellon Lab, Place reports to Martin McGuinn, Mellons chairman and CEO. She spoke with Interactive Week Business Editor John T. Mulqueen.
What is Mellons e-commerce philosophy or strategy?
E-commerce has always been primarily about driving the benefits of Internet technology through existing businesses, for the benefit of existing and potential customers. It is a mix between dot-corp and dot-com, with an emphasis on dot-corp, which is to say to “Webify” our businesses.
How do you determine return on investment?
We are a very numbers-driven company. It is an investment built on the needs of each of the businesses, the estimates of what it would cost for each of them to build it and, at the end of the day, on a belief that we need to do this to remain competitive and to advance our strategic goals, particularly in our growth areas. We have very strict milestones. We are well within budget, and we have already launched more applications than we had signed up to deliver.
What is the relationship with Mellons information technology (IT) department?
We are actually not doing this development in our IT organization. That is unique, I think, and requires very close collaboration between my team and the IT team. Allan Woods, our CIO [chief information officer], and I decided this would be more successful and would happen faster if we created a project team within my organization to do it. Operational aspects of it will move back into his team toward the end of the year. We are going to slim down to 50 people from 100. That has been very successful in terms of giving us focus. What we have done is to build the initial environment, the test environment, the QA [quality assurance] environment, the production environment, and then to begin rolling applications through them. We have now done about 10 applications.
Who sets technology standards for the company?
I tell the very few line-of-business managers who would rather do it themselves that the corporation has given me $35 million to do this. You can pay twice if you want to go do your own.
When I gave my first strategy presentation to 150 members of our various boards, a guy said: That is not very exciting. Arent we going to do a Wingspan[Bank.com an Internet-only bank]? I said: No, we are not. We are trying to make investments only where they benefit our customers or some category of customers that we think we have a possibility of growing, or that make money. We look very smart now. We havent lost a dime.