Data Talk: Emilie, Doug, Hani, Julie, and Liz.

JULIE: So you all bring a lot of great experiences to State Farm, how would you describe what you do on a daily basis? And then, considering the magnitude of the IT department at State Farm, do you really feel that in what you’re doing you have an opportunity to make your mark in such a big place?

EMILIE: As far as being able to make your mark, I think that is definitely possible. Just from being able to succeed in the work that you do every day on a daily basis and assist in a team setting and achieving your goals together, to even seeing how your coding, your testing, and all the work that you put in on these projects, deadlines you meet, actually proceed out to even the customer level where your work and the data that you transform and produce and do various things with and proceed forward with, actually assists the customers in their everyday interactions with State Farm.

DOUG: I work mostly with project work so it’s … it’s mostly about trying to figure out the requirements of our business partners and working with data modelers in order to try to find out what shape that needs to be in for us to create the reports that they need. But it’s mainly about moving the ball forward and making sure that our projects are meeting their timelines and that we’re satisfying the requirements of our business partners.

LIZ: Day to day I would say my job is about 60% facilitation and maybe 30% actual data modeling. As a data modeler, you have a choice of two paths to go down. You can either work on the operational side which is the actual systems that agents and policyholders sometimes use.

Or you can work on the data warehouse side which enables the analytical reporting, but Doug then creates to perform well. So I work with business people as an analytical data designer. I work with business people to figure out if what they’re telling me what they want is really what they want, and then I work on designing the model so that it can perform to produce the reports that Doug is the one who designs. And then I hand it all over to Emilie, and she says "Here’s how you do this. You must be nuts …"  So in terms of affecting strategy at State Farm, I think it’s absolutely possible.

And I just started last March, so in the short time that I’ve been here, I have had great reception to ideas that I’ve had and I feel like I’ve really been able to affect the direction that my group is going. I have been amazed at what a great team atmosphere it is and how people are willing to share the networks that they are part of when they think that you have an idea that’s worth supporting or passing around. Because really, people are concerned with how State Farm is doing as a whole, not necessarily their own individual glory.

JULIE: So what do you love most about your job? Hani?

HANI: Just the dynamic nature of it because first of all, there’s always opportunity to learn something new.  And State Farm just offers you that. Whether in the form of classes like Emilie said earlier, or whether in the form of people who’ve been here for a while and have the expertise and have seen it all and done it all.

EMILIE: Well, I would have to agree … variety and the opportunity to learn. I just jump at the chances to be able to learn and be able to dig into new things because I love to expand my knowledge base and just to know more and be able to accomplish more with what you have because really it gives you the better ability to be able to do your job. The more you know, the more you can apply, and the better that you can approach tasks at hand. I love the problem solving too. I mean, just on a constant basis, whether it’s projects or just support, you’re always offered the opportunity, “OK, how do I do this?” “How do I approach this?” “What is the best solution?” Yes, there are probably six, seven, eight different solutions that you can do for this, but which one is the best one, and how do I determine what that path is?

JULIE: So it sounds like you’re not pigeonholed into one area. You just are able to continually move and go in a lot of different directions.

HANI: Absolutely.

LIZ: I also love the learning. I love talking to people about what they love to do. It’s one of my favorite things is getting people to tell me what they do and then helping them use that to make their jobs easier on the other end of the project. I think that’s a fantastic way to spend your life.