JULIE: Now, most of you work in what we call a systems analyst role, and then Wendy, you work in the IT architect role. So, when you think about the magnitude of State Farm’s IT department, do you really feel like you have the opportunity to make your mark in a place that is so big?
KYLE: Well, on a daily basis, I usually do development. I’m a systems analyst, and that really means that we take projects or take ideas from our business partners from the beginning of design all the way through implementation. So it’s kind of interesting when you talk about making your mark is that it’s a project team of 40-50 members. So it’s pretty large. But what’s kind of nice is you get to work with that same group and get to build those relationships and really understand how you fit into the overall picture.
LEANNE: I also am a systems analyst, and I started out as a host developer, and then State Farm invested time in training me to become a J2E developer. So from there I’m also on a large project. But I find as big of a Systems Department as it is, every day there’s little opportunities that you can find where you’re making an impact, whether it’s the project that you’re on, the application that you’re working on, or maybe it’s just the service work that you do. There are always opportunities, and there are always things that you’re doing that really, as small as they can be, they still have an impact.
WESLEY: My current role is lead developer, which means I’m a team lead for about 20-25 Java developers. So I get the opportunity to provide some leadership, technical direction, and that kind of thing. I’m currently assigned to a large initiative that’s rewriting our claims application. That’s one of the largest initiatives in State Farm IT history. So, I just feel I’m making my mark by being part of that effort.
JULIE: Great. Wendy.
WENDY: As an IT architect, a lot of the work that I do is with our finance department, so working with their accounting technology needs, on a daily basis the things that I do are really working with the business side of the house which I really enjoy, that sometimes when people think of IT they don’t think of the relationship you have with the business. So I do a lot of architectural design-type work. As far as making my mark, yes, I think that State Farm has a wealth of opportunity. The one thing that I think is the most advantageous for me is the flexibility in movement – the ability for me to currently be in the position that I’m in but also maybe move into another area and learn a new technology or maybe learn about a new business area. So, I’m very excited about that kind of flexibility.
JULIE: Yeah, and I agree completely because when I started at State Farm, I actually started as a buyer over in the purchasing department, and I just encourage people to be open-minded about opportunities that come their way because when I think about it now, back then I would never had dreamed that I’d be working in IT and have loved it.
JULIE: So when you have an area of responsibility that you have today, if you have an idea that’s outside that area of responsibility, do you feel that that is listened to, heard and acted upon?
KYLE: We’ve got a mechanism where we can share ideas with leadership. And what’s kind of neat about it is everyone’s encouraged to participate regardless of if the idea you’ve got impacts your specific span of control or if it’s just sort of a pie-in-the-sky idea you’ve got that maybe you have no expertise in. There’s an opportunity there for you to share that, opportunity or that idea with leadership.
LEANNE: Like Kyle had mentioned, he’d said pie-in-the-sky ideas, and a lot of times you think well something like that’s going to get shot down, but they actually encourage that. They really want people to get more creative with their ideas and just more creative thinking.
JULIE: Do you feel like all of your work is around more of your professional development or is this a place that encourages more continuous learning in all aspects of your life?
LEANNE: State Farm’s helped me with training and learning, and they really encourage that. But, whatever it is that you want to do, they really take an interest in that because they want you to become an overall better individual, knowing how that helps them. So you can take that to whatever level you like. You invest your time, and they’ll help you.
WESLEY: I actually took part in some advanced training about a year or so ago, and one of the trainers actually commented unsolicited – he said State Farm is probably one of the best environments or companies that he’s seen that’s provided the level of training – retooling – for their employees. So he was pretty impressed.
KYLE: In regards to your personal development, State Farm’s a big supporter of continuing education. And with professional development, what’s kind of interesting is I’ve had relationships with a few different managers now, and it seems like with each manager after you have your introductory meeting, you have a conversation about what your long-term aspirations are. So, the point there really is the conversation you want to have with your manager is to sort of identify areas that would position you to be more competitive to land a position that really satisfies your long-term interest. And it’s really an expectation, I think, of management. Their job really is to figure out what your passion is and help you get there.