Governing Body Spotlight

Co-Chair of the Italy CIO Community

Joanna Pamphilis

Global Head, Investments and Securities Digital Products, CD&IO


Bringing along more than 20 years of international experience in Financial Services, Technology, M&A, and Consulting, Joanna Pamphilis holds the role as Global Head, Investments and Securities Digital Products, CD&IO, UniCredit.  With a lot of energy, she is taking on challenges and creating high-value Digital services and processes across multiple facets of the financial industry from Multinational Banks to FinTechs.

With roots in the US and from European heritage, Joanna gained her work experience at different stations worldwide – like UBS, State Street, KCG, Northern Trust and today, UniCredit. Being a transformational leader, she has a deep track record of impactful results while being strongly people-oriented at the same time.

Joanna is also a Managing Director of the Management Board at UniCredit GmbH Austria, and across industries she is a well-known thought leader for her favourite field – transformation with a specific focus on “women are digital transformation”.

A fun fact about Joanna is that she was born in the US, but only spoke Greek for 5 years before learning English. Furthermore, she shared that she faced cultural obstacles being from a traditional Greek household where the woman's role was not having a career. In her spare time, Joanna is a huge professional tennis fan, and she achieved her goal of attending all 4 Grand Slams (Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open) in the same year.

Learn more about the Italy CIO community here.

Give us a brief overview of the path that led to your current role.

As a US citizen with Greek heritage, I took several international positions from the heart of the US in Chicago to New York to London and today, Italy. My professional career in technology is concentrated in three main areas – Financial Services predominantly Corporate Investment Banking, M&A / Post-Merger Integration and Consulting.  Since my studies in Computer Engineering IT, transformation has played a central role in my positions, and it continues today in my role as Global Head, Investments and Securities Digital Products, CD&IO, UniCredit.

Previously, I worked at UBS, State Street, KCG, Northern Trust and have held board-level positions for regulated legal entities and nonprofit organisations, including my current position as Managing Director of the Management Board at UniCredit GmbH Austria.  I have a strong track record driving the planning, implementation and execution of strategy across global organisations with a collaborative, pragmatic and consultative approach. In addition, I have extensive exposure to complex issues facing organisations with demonstrated results aligning senior management to achieve long-term objectives and executing under time pressure-based deadlines to deliver strategic initiatives.

My specialities include Enterprise-wide Business Transformations, Post Merger Integration, Systems / Technology Integration, Strategic Planning, Change Management, Capital Markets Technologies, Operational Efficiency and Business Process Re-engineering.

Being responsible for as many as 2.000 FTEs during the course of my career, you emphasise trustful collaboration by building professional, personal relationships. As a leader, you focus on what is important, but not on every detail and expect the same from your direct reports and their teams. Delivering high performance is part of your DNA. However, you are as good as you are as a team. Therefore, you manage people on their weaknesses and collect points by doing it your way: purposeful, powerful and innovative.

Besides this, I strongly support Women in Tech, diversity in our teams and female leadership throughout the company. With our latest initiative for women at UniCredit, PINK, we focus on building bonds and fostering success. More than 350 women already participate in these regular sessions and exchange programmes.


What is one of your guiding leadership principles?

These are a few of the leadership principles I live by:

  1. Leading by example: I had role models, mentors and managers who inspired, motivated and guided me during my career. Especially as a woman in tech, there is nothing more important than following your personal intention and great leaders who pave the way for you and support you in your personal development.
  2. Authentic and transparent communication: Leadership is about people, where communicating and engaging with my team on a regular basis is essential to leadership and I strive to create the best possible relationship with each member of my team. This also means relating to all colleagues from senior stakeholders in the organization to people on teams delivering day-to-day digital solutions to our customers.
  3. Leading performance-driven / results-oriented: Effective leadership is crucial to fostering a high-performance culture standing together with my team through problem solving and overcoming challenges with the customer at the centre.  As a leader I prioritize creating an environment motivating teams to take ownership, striving for excellence, and delivering exceptional results.
  4. Responsibly empowering teams and leading with empathy: My international experiences influence how I lead, live and work in different countries around the world – gaining diverse perspectives, learning adaptability, and approach with people and situations based on diversity of challenges I have experienced to help me in this field.
  5. Triangle of decision making: Lead by prioritizing to have customer(s) at the forefront of decision making when solving problems followed by doing the right thing for the team(s) and then the outcome for the individual(s).
  6. Paying it forward: Promote giving back to others to foster trust, openness, and collaboration with positive impact on the effective functioning of my team and the organization overall as I do personally in many areas most notably with the latest DE&I Employee Resource group established, PINK initiative at UniCredit.

What is the greatest challenge CIOs face today, and how are you addressing it?

The greatest challenge is managing the accelerated rate of business change and its impact on decisions for our customers, business, people and investments. We’re addressing it through engagement of stakeholders, employees (e.g. working together because the sum of the whole is greater than the individual parts) for problem solving, diverse inputs, and gaining buy-in and support. Buy-in and support are especially crucial for creating a set of common goals and values with purpose so the teams who need to execute and deliver the strategy or new digital product or service have conviction and ownership in how they manage the accelerated rate of business change, instead of being frustrated or stressed.

Another challenge is navigating uncertainty where external factors can impact strategic planning and day-to-day business operations. We’re working together with the business and digital teams to find the right opportunities in these moments where a higher level of stress test is given to budgets and proposed projects for investments with clear attribution to business growth / revenues, sustainable efficiencies, lower costs, and improved customer experience.  These types of opportunities are actually a good thing, because having a higher level of constraint empowers teams to make better decisions and recommendations.


What is the key to success for someone just starting out as a CIO?

  • Prioritise listening, true active listening.
  • Clear communications and collaboration to foster engagement and relations between key stakeholders on your team and in the business.
  • Show quick wins / impacts to gain business confidence, credibility and establish trust in your abilities as a C-Level-role.
  • Have a clear understanding of the company's strategy and adapt it to the goals with your team. 
  • Working successfully together means staying in constant exchange with peers, team members and the C-level – keep reflecting on yourself and the team, continuously improving, learning from mistakes and succeeding to find the best solutions with the right-fitting people in your team.
  • Establish trust and credibility in key relationships by creating a common baseline ("understand current state") with key stakeholders internally across the organisation including my team and externally (e.g., vendors, partners). Reach a common view on how to improve technology misalignments with the business strategic objectives. 
  • Listen and understand your business stakeholder before developing a technology plan. Do not overlook or underestimate the value and impact of the interpersonal aspect of a C-level role where there is a technology component but also elements of orchestrating change, building strong stakeholder relationships and designing / delivering for superior customer experience (CX).

How do you measure success as a leader?

My motto is: “You can do it!” Having this in mind, I strive for delivering impactful results due to strong focus, as well as knowing the value chain end-to-end.

I start by defining what success looks like for me and means for me. Measuring success starts with alignment. There are the traditional measures (quantitative - KPIs, company performance, achieving sales targets, NPS from customers, employee retention rates) and there are the qualitative measures including impact on your team (e.g. are they growing as a professional), employee satisfaction, employee engagement, holding true to your values, and equally importantly the impact on the business through innovation you introduce as a leader.


What is the value of being a member of the Evanta community?

As a Chief Digital and Information Officer (CD&IO), the value of being part of the Evanta community lies in its exceptional platform for collaboration and knowledge sharing in the digital and information sphere. Evanta provides a unique opportunity to exchange insights, learn about emerging trends, and gain practical advice from peers who understand the nuances of the CD&IO role. This community is a vital resource for staying ahead in the rapidly evolving digital landscape.

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