The 2018 Olin Business magazine shared a series of vignettes featuring alumni faced with a business decision requiring them to weigh data with their values. We featured these stories to support Olin’s strategic pillar focused on equipping leaders to confront challenge and create change, for good. This is one of those vignettes.
When Retail Credit Corporation was founded in Atlanta nearly 120 years ago, the company kept paper files on consumers to gauge their creditworthiness. “This industry has grown from looking at a file and just saying, ‘Does he pay his bills? Yes or no?’” said Paulino do Rego Barros Jr., MBA ’91.
Indeed, as a veteran executive at the company now known as Equifax, he’s on the vanguard of the power and pitfalls the massive data revolution has wrought on the industry and its customers. Equifax and its competitors wield data that tracks purchases, evaluates how reliably customers pay bills, and measures customer assets.
In spite of the power, Barros said, “there is a strong sense of stewardship and ethics.” That sense of stewardship came through a little more than a year ago when hackers breached Equifax.
Two days after he was named interim CEO, Barros apologized to consumers and customers in The Wall Street Journal. Barros is now US Information Solutions, president and former interim CEO, Equifax.
“We didn’t live up to expectations,” he wrote. Under his leadership, the company gave consumers free credit monitoring services, upgraded its website, boosted access to call-center support, and instituted other measures to regain the faith of consumers and customers.
“The regulatory framework establishes very clearly what we can or cannot do with consumer data,” he said. “But the decisions I made—and our ethical and moral values—are very important to us.”