Never forget that tech has to serve a purpose

On Monday 8 April 2024, Rocío López, ING’s Chief Information Officer for Spain and Portugal, spoke at QCon London, one of the world’s best-known software development conferences. The two-time winner of ‘CIO of the Year’ in Spain shared her love of technology and how to use it to have impact.

Rocío shared her thoughts about the importance of understanding the reason why ING uses tech – namely, for the benefit of clients and businesses. “We must never forget that tech has to serve a purpose,” she said. “The ‘why’ should be the most important question in our work, before the ‘what’ and the ‘how’.”  

Tech is the pioneering driver to improve the business

She reflected on how technology has become the pioneering driver to improve the business and to create customer value. In an era in which differentiation is key, the use of technology has been a major enabler for creating value. Rocío showed what technical patterns ING has adopted and how they have been channelled into business value, such as hyper-personalisation, data usage for customer engagement, CI/CD in an innovative and agile environment, and the importance of fostering diverse teams to make everything happen.  

I don’t believe in career building in the traditional sense of the word

ING’s tech-driven culture is one of the reasons that Rocío is strongly attached to the company. Since starting at the bank 16 years ago, she has followed a path full of opportunities. “Something interesting came my way roughly every two years. That doesn’t mean that every step was a promotion. I don’t believe in career building in the traditional sense of the word. Instead, I believe in creating a solid, broad foundation for yourself by building a whole package of experiences and competencies – in tech, innovation, leadership, strategy, people and stakeholder management. That is exactly what I did, and what gave me the skillset to fulfil my current role.”  

In the space of just one year, she was named CIO of the Year by an international community of CIOs, plus she received the title in a jury vote. “Both wins were a great honour. However, I see both titles as recognition for the entire team. The support of my team provides the foundation for everything I do. And the wins are also thanks to ING, that really sees tech as a huge booster for the business. Had that not been the case, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve so much.” 

“It helps that I love getting my teeth into a good challenge. For example, despite not being a specialist I led a data architecture team. I built up a business bank from scratch. And I spontaneously seized an opportunity to move to the Netherlands to work on innovation in a start-up environment. It has been an amazing journey until now, and I am sure there is more to come.” 

There’s a really cool, creative side to tech

“Does my journey make me a role model for girls who’re considering working in tech? If it helps them, I am fine with that. And I am using my position to push for more women in tech, and for more diversity in our teams in general – whether in terms of gender, age, background or otherwise. Besides, tech is so fun and interesting! There’s a really cool, creative side to it, and you don’t necessarily have to be great at maths, as people often think. I was actually bad at maths. However, I do like coming up with solutions to complex issues, and that has got me a pretty long way so far.”

About Rocío

Rocío studied telecommunications technology at the Carlos III University in Madrid and initially started working in consultancy. After two years, she was recruited by ING. Rocío loves rock music and heavy metal, but also classical music and opera. She plays the piano and is fond of fine arts like painting, literature and architecture. Rocío has a seven-year-old son with whom she spends as much time as possible. She also enjoys going out with friends, and she returns to her native town of Cuenca from time to time to visit her parents.

QCon London was from 8-10 April 2024. Learn more about Rocío’s talk at the conference. 

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