CAREERS & the disABLED
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Opportunity via Stability
With a constant need for professionals, banking, insurance and financial services offer many opportunities for career growth.
There will always be need for the insurance, banking and financial services fields. Because of their necessity, and the stability, challenge, and diversity of work they offer, these fields provide excellent opportunities to build a long-term career.
To help others succeed in these fields, four professionals working in these sectors talk about their roles, what makes their companies great places to work, and offer advice for succeeding in these necessary fields, all of which have myriad roles ranging from fintech, analytics, AI, IT, cybersecurity, programming, and app and website development to sales, HR, marketing, customer service, branch services and legal.
Craig Works to Keep SunTrust Top of Mind with Current & Potential Customers
As the senior vice president, and head of marketing strategy and operations for SunTrust, David Craig works to not only develop an enterprise marketing strategy for the company, but also to prove that it works.
“I work with the marketing leadership team to develop a concise and actionable enterprise marketing strategy,” he says. “We look out three years to develop the strategy, then develop annual objectives that help in meeting the goals of our strategy.”
An on-going project - and challenge - of Craig’s work is addressing the “age-old problem” of marketing, which is trying to connect marketing activities to business impact.
“Many think of marketing as a soft discipline, but it’s actually more of an analytical science to determine the right mix of marketing activities and programs you need to influence someone who isn’t initially intending to buy a product or service,” he explains.
“Today there are so many different channels, and there’s a real science in how they all work together and the different marketing levers you have to pull to get the client, and we’re working to hone in on how we do that well for each different business area.”
With the company since 2006, Craig was attracted to Atlanta, GA-headquartered SunTrust for its inclusive culture and its people.
“There are some companies where they provide smart, experienced people the opportunity to leverage their intelligence and expertise to drive the company. That’s SunTrust,” points out Craig.
“SunTrust is a purpose-driven company that aims to hire people that bring a diverse set of experiences and backgrounds to better the company, not just do a job.”
He also appreciates the company’s willingness to work with employees and provide necessary accommodations. For Craig, who is permanently immunosuppressed due to medications needed because of a heart transplant he received 30 years ago, this has been important to his success at SunTrust, as it gives him the time and resources he needs to maintain his health.
“There are a lot of people who have different disabilities or different issues that might keep them from having a traditional work life,” notes Craig.
“SunTrust provides accommodations so individuals here who have disabilities and may not be able to do things in a traditional way can be successful. We don’t take a cookie-cutter approach.”
SunTrust strives to honor accommodation requests that help employees perform the essential functions of their jobs, he adds.
For those who are differently abled or need accommodations, Craig says it’s important to focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do.
“Figure out how you do it and then work with the company to allow you to do those things, even in a non-traditional way. Always focus on what you can do,” he advises.
When it comes to interviewing and looking at companies, Craig offers some key advice: “It’s something I was told long ago, but I still think it’s critically important: when you’re in an interview, interview the company as much as they’re interviewing you….Don’t think the company is doing you a favor by offering you a job. When a company hires someone, it’s making an investment. You need to articulate why you believe you’re the best investment it can make, and have confidence that you’re a great investment.”
And don’t forget the importance of company culture. “Culture is critical,” concludes Craig. “You want a company that values what you provide, not just gives you a paycheck.”
Find career opportunities with SunTrust at jobs.suntrust.com. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Finefrock Helps State Farm Claims Associates Succeed
When State Farm claim associates have a question, Mel Finefrock is the person to call.
Finefrock began her career at Bloomington, IL-headquartered State Farm as a claim associate, taking customers’ statements and handling repairs. She recently accepted a position as a claim specialist and now assists other associates with claim-handling questions.
“You could say I'm kind of like phone-a-friend. I love it,” she shares.
With the company for three and a half years, Finefrock says she never pictured herself working in the insurance industry.
“I remember my trainers said they’d never pictured themselves working in the insurance industry. I would concur,” notes Finefrock, an English major who previously created work for herself as an editor and transcriptionist, a singer/songwriter and poet. “But I wasn't able to make a consistent living so was always keeping an ear out for new opportunities.”
But being blind, finding full-time employment was a challenge for Finefrock.
“Being blind, I faced a lot of discrimination, sometimes overt and sometimes more difficult to prove. You'd think that, with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) having been enacted more than a quarter of a century prior, society might have come farther. It was pretty discouraging. So, when a friend of mine, also disabled, told me about his work at State Farm, I jumped at the chance to apply,” she reveals.
Nearly four years later, Finefrock says she’s still her artsy self, but also a “huge insurance nerd. I've loved being able to be creative in how I help my customers, and I love that I can now apply this knowledge in a coaching capacity.”
What Finefrock loves most about her work is her team. “We’re always laughing together, always encouraging and looking out for each other, and always sharing knowledge and learning from one another,” she says.
“We’re always thinking outside the box, always asking why, always dreaming up better ways to equip and empower the associates who count on us every day so they, in turn, can deliver the most remarkable service to our customers.”
To succeed in the field, Finefrock believes it’s key to be adaptable, but also advises to not be afraid to ask for what you need. This is especially true when it comes to asking for accommodations.
“Of reasonable accommodations, I can’t stress enough how important it is that both employee and employer play a part. This means the employee must be communicative about what they need, but it’s paramount that an employer hears them out and is supportive to the greatest extent possible, even if the accommodation in question is unusual or hasn’t been done before,” Finefrock says.
“I’ll be honest, and say that it took patient trial and error for us to reach this place of understanding, but we got there. I’m grateful to State Farm for this opportunity and for taking a step with me into the unusual.”
Find career opportunities with State Farm at statefarm.com/careers. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Flickr and YouTube.
Quality Data Is the Cornerstone of Haque’s Work at Cigna
Usman Haque works to ensure the numbers are just right at Bloomfield, CT-headquartered Cigna.
Haque is the technical lead on the measurement and reporting team for Cigna’s collaborative accountable care (CAC) program at Cigna, a program that helps healthcare provider groups improve patient health outcomes, and lower costs through analytics and insights.
“My team ensures the underlying data and reports prepared for CAC providers are accurate,” the informatics senior specialist says. “My stakeholders depend on me to explain data and any anomalies in the data.”
That recently required Haque to connect with upstream data partners to discuss the flow of data over a significant period of time.
“I presented my findings to several people with varying levels of technical and medical knowledge. Being able to explain what was happening and give them that reassurance was a meaningful experience,” Haque says.
With the company for four years, Haque’s roles and responsibilities - and the ensuing challenges - have expanded with his tenure.
“I like that each day brings new challenges and requires me to continuously learn - not just about the reporting and data my team supports, but also about the CAC program and the benefits it provides,” he notes.
He particularly enjoys the support Cigna and his team provide: “I enjoy working on a supportive, collaborative team and for a manager who continuously pushes me to grow.”
He also appreciates how Cigna ensures all employees with different abilities are given the tools, accommodations and opportunities they need to excel. Haque has a congenital condition known as Robert’s Syndrome, and was born with shorter arms and legs; he wears prosthetic legs and use an electric wheelchair to get around.
“People with different abilities or physical challenges are not at a disadvantage. Everyone has challenges, whether they’re physical, mental, financial or social,” maintains Haque. “The key to overcoming challenges - and succeeding - comes from within. If you can internalize that, then you can and will overcome anything.”
As evidence of the company’s commitment to inclusion, Cigna and its Express Scripts business were both named as a Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion after earning scores of 100 on the 2019 Disability Equality Index.
“Employees with a disability are among the most productive, present, loyal, innovative and resilient,” remarks Mark Boxer, executive vice president and chief information officer, Cigna.
“They’re a competitive advantage for Cigna; they bring desirable skills, experiences, and depth to our global workforce. We’re proud of our commitment to leveling the playing field in employment for those with disabilities.”
For young professionals interested in business IT, which is critical to many industries, Haque recommends learning about the tools, data and languages currently being used by companies.
“Yes, industries are different, but data is data,” he explains. “There are countless resources available to individuals who want to learn about the technologies being used.”
Plus, he says, if you know someone at a company with an open job opportunity, then ask them what applications the company uses and then learn about them.
“It’s okay to go into your first interview without any experience as long as you can show the ability and motivation to learn,” Haque contends.
Find careers opportunities with Cigna at cigna.com/careers. Connect on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Snapchat, Google+ and Instagram.
Walley Helps Fulfill OneMain Financial Customers’ Loan Needs
Sara Walley helps customers gets the loans they need to achieve their dreams and get what they need.
“I work closely with customers both over the phone and in person to process personal loans to fit the customers’ needs,” says Walley, a senior personal loan specialist for OneMain Financial.
Walley had been working in a similar field when she was recruited by the Evansville, IN-headquartered company.
“After I did my research of the company, I felt like it would be a good career move,” she shares. “The company has been in the lending business for more than 100 years, and I knew I liked working in the financial field, so I decided to go for it.”
While each office Walley has worked in is very different, the people have all been wonderful, according to Walley. “A great team makes the job that much more enjoyable.”
She also appreciates that OneMain recognizes diversity and persons with disabilities, and strives to ensure they’re comfortable and to accommodate any needs to make this a comfortable work environment. Walley herself is an above-elbow amputee, having lost her arm when she was six years old.
“I’ve grown up with my right arm missing for 32 years, so I’ve learned to adapt to not only a world and workplace designed for people with no disability, but also to a world geared toward right-handed people,” says Walley.
“I know everyone’s disability varies and everyone’s obstacles to overcome differ, but I feel like this current culture has allowed for a lot more awareness to people’s differences, and opened up access for a lot more employers to be aware and provide the tools necessary for someone to succeed.”
To be successful, Walley advises others to just be themselves: “Hold your head up high and be confident in who you are and what you have to offer this company you are applying for. You put the work in to get here and to be recognized as a great asset to this field, whatever it may be.”
She also says to remember that you’re a person first and foremost.
“I’m a believer in the person first, not to recognize anyone as the disability first. I’m a woman, a mom, a loan specialist who has one arm; I’m so many more things before my disability,” counsels Walley.
“And I want anyone reading this to know that you are, too. You’re not defined by whatever circumstance that caused your disability; what defines you are the things that make you, you. You’re smart and able, and your contributions are just as great as anyone else’s.”
Find career opportunities with OneMain Financial at jobs.onemainfinancial.com. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn.
https://www.selectusa.gov/financial-services-industry-united-states, https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/financial-services/articles/banking-industry-outlook.html, https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/financial-services/us-fsi-dcfs-2019-banking-cap-markets-outlook.pdf, https://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/ey-global-banking-outlook-2018/$FILE/ey-global-banking-outlook-2018.pdf, https://www.privatebank.citibank.com/outlook.html, https://www.thebanker.com/Information/Support/About-Us
• $124 Trillion: The total world banking assets reached in 2018.
• $1.5 Trillion: The amount of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) that finance and insurance represented in 2018.
• $17 Trillion-Plus: The amount of assets held by the U.S. banking system at the end of 2018.
• $236.8 Billion: The net income the U.S. banking system earned by the end of 2018.
• $28 Trillion-Plus: The total retirement assets the asset management sector handled in 2017.
• $500 Billion-Plus: The cash involved in the private equity field in 2017.
• $1.1 Trillion: The amount the insurance industry’s written net premiums totaled in 2016.
Sources: SelectUSA and The Banker’s Top 1,000 World Banks Ranking
https://ward.aon.com/offers/hr-employee-benefits/invite, https://ward.aon.com/company/about, https://www.selectusa.gov/financial-services-industry-united-states
• The financial services and insurance sectors employed more than 6.3 million people at the end of 2018.
• There will be 400,000 new jobs added in the insurance industry by 2020.
• In the next five to 10 years, 25% of the current workforce in the industry is expected to retire.
• Insurance companies are expected to grow revenue and staff numbers in 2019.
Sources: SelectUSA, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Post, CNBC, Monster.com and 2018 Human Resources and Benefits Practices Study by Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) and Ward Group for Aon plc, Ward Benchmarking and McLagan
https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/financial-services/articles/gx-insurance-industry-outlook.html, https://www.ey.com/en_gl/insurance/ey-insurance-outlook-what-should-insurers-do-to-prepare-for-tom, https://mclagan.aon.com/insights/articles/2019/insurance-industry-trends-and-outlook-for-2019, https://ward.aon.com/offers/hr-employee-benefits/invite, https://ward.aon.com/company/about, https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/financial-services/articles/banking-industry-outlook.html, https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/financial-services/us-fsi-dcfs-2019-banking-cap-markets-outlook.pdf, https://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/ey-global-banking-outlook-2018/$FILE/ey-global-banking-outlook-2018.pdf
People-Focused Digital Transformation Pushes Nimble Growth
A focus on tech and innovation, and on these more specific key ideas will help insurers drive agile growth:
• Digital transformation is critical to optimize costs and boost innovation.
• Both digital and direct distribution channels are imperative for growth.
• Life insurers must expand their value propositions and product sets to address all aspects of financial wellness.
Banks are focused on all things tech, too. In fact, with 85% of banks citing implementation of a digital transformation program as a business priority for 2018, investment in tech to drive efficiency, manage evolving risks and benefit from growth opportunities continues to be critical for sustainable success.
However, banks must remain focused on people, with a clear, purposeful digital transformation strategy. As a result, all companies in the finance sector - from insurance to banking - need to future-proof their workforce, too. Therefore, companies will continue to invest in their workforce, despite increasing digitization and automation, opening opportunities for expected employment growth.
Sources: EY’s Global Banking Outlook 2018, Insurance Industry Trends and Outlook for 2019 by Aon plc, Ward Benchmarking and McLagan, Deloitte’s 2019 Banking Industry Outlook, EY’s 2019 Insurance Outlook and Deloitte’s 2019 Insurance Industry Outlook
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