Kirsten Garen
Chief Information Officer, Bank of the West

Bank of the West is widely viewed as a product innovator and much of the credit goes to Kirsten Garen.

With Garen as its chief information officer, the $72 billion-asset bank became one of the first in the country to adopt online account opening and to allow customers to pay bills by snapping a picture of them. It was also first to launch a mobile app that allows customers to check up to five account balances at once without logging in. The app, called Quick Balance, won the bank a product innovation award last year and has since been copied by other banks.

Garen joined Bank of the West in 2011 after about two years with Visa and more than a decade with Charles Schwab. Among the biggest decisions she has made as CIO was bringing many of the bank's technology functions in-house, a restructuring she says allows the company to respond more quickly to industry challenges and improves its regulatory reporting. Working with the digital channels group, Garen's team — which has added dozens of staffers over the last several years — also overhauled all of its digital platforms, with a goal of speeding up delivery and simplifying the user experience.

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