VP, Bank Customer Client Relationship Management, Mid-Tier, Retail Banking Division

Vice President
Group/Division/Type: Financial Institutions Group (FIG)

Brookfield, WI 53045
United States

Interviewed: May 2010

Overall experience




General Interview Information


Accepted Offer

Interview Source


Length of Process

2-3 months

Interview Details

What did the interview consist of?
Phone Interview
1 on 1 Interview
Group Interview
IQ / Intelligence Test
Personality Test
Drug Test
Background Check
Please describe the interview / hiring process.
The interview process was conducted during a significant company wide re-org which was having major impacts on both internal company units - such as HR, Finance, Enterprise IT, etc. This lead to a significant degree of internal confusion early on in the process resulting in multiple initial phone interviews with company personnel at the same level. Three different attempts were made to schedule on site interviews at company HQ in Brookfield, WI, all of which were forced to be cancelled within 2-4 days of scheduled travel due to unplanned meetings and operational events which forced key stakeholders in the interview and selection process for this role to enter an unavailable status for several weeks.

Further complications were created due to internal HR communications issues and what appeared to be some type of internal "turf" struggle. Executive level candidates were normally handled by an Enterprise level HR team which theoretically had control of the candidate process from end to end. However, by long standing tradition, company executive level employees who would be working at corporate HQ were personally dealt with by senior HR staff from the local HR office.

There were actually two parallel hiring processes being conducted simultaneously because neither group seemed willing to give the operational lead in this hiring process to the other group.

After the completion of multiple phone interviews with key stakeholders including two panel conference call interviews communications suddenly ceased, and for over two weeks I heard nothing from HR as to the status of my candidacy or what was happening with the position despite attempts to learn what was going on.

Suddenly, without any prior notice or warning, I was contacted at about 1PM on a Wed afternoon by the EA of the hiring executive to fly out to Brookfield for an interview the following morning. They had booked the only available flight in advance which left my local airport about 4 hours later. This created significant logistical challenges for me and my family, but despite the totally unprofessional - and to my mind - incompetent fashion that the planning to have me present for a face to face interview was conducted I still managed to prepare, pack, and make it to the flight on time.

The next day at company HQ more last minute scheduling issues developed which basically invalidated the majority of my pre-arranged agenda of meetings. The primary hiring manager ultimately was only able to spend about 30 minutes with me divided into a first meeting session in the morning, and a final session at the completion of my round of interviews for the day.

Several of the key executives I was to meet with had been forced to cancel, so I ended up meeting with either subordinates who were by and large not prepared or expecting to be interviewing anyone for such a senior level role. Their interview questions were extremely basic, and mostly of the type I refer to as "warm and fuzzy" - describing my experience in previous roles, management style, what I liked about the industry, my future goals, a snapshot of my family life, and so on.

Of the 4 executives I interviewed with that day, only two were actual stakeholders involved in the hiring process for this position. One was a peer level VP who would be working closely with the person selected to fill the role I was interviewing for, and his questions were mostly social, opinion, and what my decision would have been for a variety of managerial issues - none related specifically to the role at hand.

The final executive of the four was a peer of the hiring manager. He asked questions which were mostly related to my skills in cooperative management of deliverables involving functional areas outside of my own as dependencies, my ability to work with matrixed resources, my skills in managing multiple issues of varying degrees of business priority, and my approach to resource planning and allocation. Very little was mentioned of the skills and experience which was what I had prepared myself to respond to.

All the interview discussions were cordial and very friendly.

My concluding discussion with the hiring manager involved him writing example org chart diagrams on a napkin in his office thinking about the landscape of his future team, and where I might add the greatest degree of influence, asset capability, and leadership. He had no questions for me related to my technical expertise or experience. His questions, which were few, touched on compensation, willingness to relocate, and finally whether I would want the job if he offered it to me.

Ten minutes later I was being driven back to the airport.

Once again, I hit the Fiserv "HR black hole" where I heard nothing about the outcome of my face to face interview, and nothing about the role. Basically, it was like being in a communications black out. After three weeks of nothing happening, I was drawing near to the end of another series of interviews with a different company and all the signals were very positive. While the role itself was not as aligned with my overall skills and style of executive management, the culture was one that placed significant emphasis on personal accountability for results, and a highly transparent decision making environment.

Because of this cultural differentiation between the two companies, I had the experience of always being updated on my status with the latest information and where the process currently stood - and with whom - before I felt I needed to attempt self-help discovery. The compensation packages - both being very general at this point - were in the same ballpark. The weather was definitely better at the location of the second company, so all in all I knew it would be a decision I would need to make carefully if it came to a choice.

I decided to let the hiring manager and my HR contacts from both company HR units claiming jurisdiction over the hiring of the role at Fiserv know that it was very probable I would be receiving a formal offer from another company within the next week or so, and if they still wanted to discuss hiring me they needed to get an offer to me by the close of the week.

Two days later Fiserv sent it''s offer.

Here is the most important piece of information for future executive level candidates who are considering a move to Fiserv and an offer letter arrives:

Unlike every other company I have worked for, Fiserv does not negotiate its salary offers for executive level new hires. There is some wiggle room on a limited number of available perks and benefits including starting weeks of paid vacation, profit sharing percentage, and so on. Don't waste your breath on counter-offers regarding the offered starting salary itself. They follow a known matrix of salary benchmarks provided to many Fortune 500 companies and will offer you exactly 80% of that year's current MRP (Market Reference Point) for base compensation. As that number changes each year due to increases in cost of living, etc, your MRP goes up slightly, usually 2-4%. That increase which is really the amount required to keep you from actually losing real dollar salary is brightly painted and packaged as part of your annual merit pay increase. (Ok..so it's fairly obvious by now that this increasingly common practice is something I feel is insulting to everyone's intelligence, and totally disingenuous - at best. But there you have it.)

Relo is outsourced to one of the "big three" in corporate relocation logistics. Expect to be nickel and dimed every step of the way so you won't suffer any disappointment. Again, not a practice by any means exclusive to Fiserv - its fairly common place as the way to do business in corporate America. With that said, however, any of the customary perks or escalated level of service one would normally expect as a solid executive level employee simply do not exist. While I have never been all that big on executive entitlement, I do hold to an expectation that as an executive I should be provided a level of respect due to the level and significance of my role in the company if nothing else. At Fiserv, forget about all that.

Lastly - my on-boarding and orientation upon arrival at Fiserv was a total nightmare. It consisted almost exclusively of obtaining my photo badge ID, security clearances to enter company facilities on campus, and then a five minute presentation on the benefits of enrolling in the pre-tax company meal plan.

I was given directions to my building and my office. Upon arrival to my new digs, I found my office was actually a small converted supply room basically just large enough to make a tight squeeze for a small desk and a visitor chair. It did have a window - but no office chair - someone had stolen it apparently - and no phones and no computers. Due to the dueling HR staffers, no-one had bothered to assign me an EA, or offer to share one, and it is the EA's role to make sure that everything is in the office and ready to go.

Five agonizing days later I arrived at my new office to find it filled with boxes - an office chair, a telephone system, computer, cell phones, headsets, conference phone, printer, a laptop, and some basic office supplies. The next several days were a wonderful experience in setting up my own equipment - once again, the lack of EA support meant that I had no way to enter any work orders into the system. Not that it would have mattered. I was not provisioned with IT access until my third week on the job.

Fiserv is a great place to work if you have no qualms about doing whatever you need to get the job done yourself. The executive ranks are by and large mostly powerless when compared to other companies of similar size in the F500. The usual - even minimal level of authority one expects to possess upon arrival as a newly hired executive at Fiserv simply doesn't exist. Power of almost every sort resides in the hands of the SVP's and EVP's. This is a result of Fiserv's legacy of originally starting out as a simple holding company in its first twenty to thirty years of existence. During this period Fiserv continued to aquire many brands and many companies. However, nobody interfered with the way they operated as long as the money continued flowing back to the Fiserv mother-ship.

All that changed with the arrival of the current CEO around 2006, Jeff Yabuki. The first big initiative that he was able to convinced the BOD to approve and support was operationalizing Fiserv as both actual operating brand and the sole company entity. That process got under way about 2008, and met with swift resistance from the various business units, lighting the fuse on the massive stack of gunpowder barrels filled with the accumulating anger, mistrust, and resentment which was building in the previously independent companies, many of whom felt disenfranchised, ignored, dealt with unfairly, and left in a communication vacuum.

Thus began the "insiders civil war" - the cause of multiple and frequent company re-orgs and churn in the executive ranks. The cause appears to trace back to clashes in shifting company cultural norms and values, but escalated from there. Fiserv is still a land of "Us and Them" on the inside. It is still being waged and after so many years it has had a major and potentially lasting cultural impact on the speed and efficiency of how Fiserv business units cope with changes in a very competitive global business landscape, major changes to the regulatory environment, adoption of company-wide single "source of truth" standards of best practice methodology, shared innovation, elimination of multiple organizational redundancies, escalating administrative costs, and overall operating effectiveness.

By 2010, at least two years into this process, as an example, there still did not exist a trusted domain relationship between the application and data servers, network active directory and identity servers, HR, email, purchasing, and other vital "shared services" between the home campus location of the company HQ in Brookfield, WI, and the other major company operations locations. This included sites such as the large campus down in Norcross, GA, that was the former home of Fiserv's largest acquisition, the 1998 purchase of well known brand-name company "Check-Free", that today is the HQ location for Fiserv's "Enterprise IT organization". Due to the lack of a primary and basic requirement resolved as part of every major M&A involving high levels of IT technology to support basic business needs - in this case the basic trusted relationship between the domain servers in Brookfield and Norcross, company logon ID's and passwords from one location were useless at the other. This meant complicated "work arounds" were required anytime access was required to company-wide shared systems that reside at either location.

Most of the individual legacy company brands still have their own separate and self funded internal IT organizations and associated infrastructure. The administrative costs of these redundancies are enormous, and the impact of constant turf battles has hampered efforts to greatly improve service levels by the adoption and implementation of IT best practices such as ITIL, ITSM, Apollo Root Cause Methodology, Six-Sigma, Earned Value Management (EVM). Unified Change and Release Management, along with a whole host of other opportunities for adding transformative value which yet remain.

Eventually, however, once the dust does finally settle, Fiserv will be in a place to leverage its massive array of inherent abilities, assets, talents, and market penetration at such a scale and in such a way that I firmly believe it evolve from being merely a market leader today into the kind of company which will re-write the rules of engagement and the ways and means of conducting business that will totally re-imagine, re-invent, and re-shape the way that their industry conducts its business today. That is a very rare opportunity which very few companies will ever have - I am thinking in the same way in which Apple re-invented the business model for the technology industry and the cultural impacts that its products have had across our increasingly global society.

This is a hugely exciting concept that in my opinion makes the current pain one experiences as an executive at Fiserv worth enduring - just to be a part of that future. It goes without saying, however, that someone willing to do this must be properly equipped with enough of the right temperament, fortitude, patience, perseverance, and a thick skin to stick it out while the company evolves to the necessary level of maturity to let that organic process commence safely and succeed.

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