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Gary Scholten
Chief Information Officer
Principal Financial Group

Times were relatively simple, and so was life insurance, when Principal Financial Group opened as Bankers Life Association in 1879. Today the Des Moines, Iowa–based company is diversified across insurance, asset management, retirement and employee wellness programs, and banking, with $369 billion under management and $8.3 billion in annual operating revenue. Publicly owned since 2001, Principal depends heavily on technology to manage complexity, expand globally and compete with maximum efficiency, but CIO Gary Scholten says a culture of collaboration between tech and business staffs produces the results. "Part of the Principal DNA is that no single person will come up with the answer," the 54-year-old explains. "IT is not separate from the business." After joining Principal in 1980 as an assistant planning analyst, Scholten served as CIO of several key divisions on his way to taking his current position in 2002. He is focused lately on applying predictive analytics to individual life insurance underwriting to "dynamically identify good and bad risks using data in a new way." And he is developing new and better tools for advisers selling Principal products, because a mere "web site with marketing materials" is inadequate.