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African-American Career World Magazine, launched in 2001, is the recruitment link between students and professionals who are African American and the employers that seek to hire them. The publication includes career strategies, industry trends, and role-model profiles that target the African-American community.

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 The Leading Edge

 
IT occupations are in demand and growing.
 
With double-digit growth in many industry sectors, IT careers will be at the leading edge of job growth for at least the next decade, especially when you consider how many facets of our lives and how many businesses technology touches.
From fraud prevention and cybersecurity to the orchestration of information systems aspects of mergers and acquisitions, the five professionals profiled here are entrenched in various aspects of tech and have capitalized on the IT opportunities they’ve found. They also provide insight on this strong growth field and the vast array of openings in IT.
 
 
BBVA’s Crenshaw Protects Customers from Fraud
Tiffani Crenshaw wants to keep BBVA Compass clients safe when they bank online.
Crenshaw contributes to the tools and strategies used by the company to reduce potential online fraud for the bank, evaluating their effectiveness while recommending ways to better optimize the company’s fraud prevention work.
“What I enjoy most is the ability to be a driving force to prevent fraud that might hinder the bank from achieving its goals,” says Crenshaw, a fraud analytics analyst. “Fraud can impact every area of the bank.”
With a bachelor’s degree in information systems and a concentration in fraud examination, plus a master’s degree in engineering, Crenshaw says she’s always been highly analytical and investigative. When she was presented with the opportunity to work at Birmingham, AL-based BBVA Compass, she jumped at the opportunity to contribute to the protection of the company.
“I wanted to be with the bank, because it’s really a digital leader,” says Crenshaw, who joined the company in August 2016. “The main reason that drew me to the bank was the opportunity to grow in my career and contribute to the bank’s cybersecurity initiatives.”
Crenshaw particularly enjoys BBVA Compass’ diverse and teamwork-focused environment: “Here, you’re able to openly collaborate and tap into the unique capabilities of a team with various backgrounds and insights.”
She also appreciates that the bank strives to be a destination for Millennials. “As a Millennial, I’m happy to see that BBVA Compass is always looking to be more innovative and discover new ways of working. I think that’s really important.”
Crenshaw says that fraud prevention professionals in the financial industry continue to be in demand.
“Because banks are advancing digital strategies, demand will most likely increase. It’s imperative to have a team dedicated to fraud as threats grow,” she points out.
Crenshaw also notes that to be successful in the field, it’s important to build strong interpersonal communication skills.
“In fraud prevention, you need to be able to translate and communicate your work to people with different professional backgrounds,” she contends.
Being proactive is also critical, according to the fraud prevention professional.
“You have to stay current with new technologies and programming languages. This helps position yourself as an innovative and proactive employee who’s invested in the security of organization,” says Crenshaw.
“Because technology is constantly evolving and with the banking industry’s digital channels and solutions growing, the ability to learn and adapt allows you to be more well-versed at detecting fraud before it rises.”
Being proactive also extends to anticipating the needs of the organization and its management.
“Knowing what your management team needs before being asked will really set you apart,” adds Crenshaw.
Delve into careers.bbva.com and careers.bbva.com/compass for BBVA careers. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+.
 
Software Engineer Little Succeeds at TDS
Kenya Little was initially hesitant to get into programming, but once she got a taste of it, she was all in.
“After taking a programming class, I got the same feeling of accomplishment that comes from creating something - a working program. I realized this field actually combined many of the things that I love,” she shares.
Little is a senior software engineer at Chicago, IL-based TDS Telecommunications Corporation. Part of the integrations team within the IT department, she supports various middleware and service-oriented architecture software and develops in-house software.
“At TDS our software integrates or connects various disparage systems and applications,” explains Little. “My team is responsible for administering, development and deployment of the software we support.”
Little also investigates issues that arise from those systems and codes new enhancements and programs. For instance, she’s currently the integrations team lead for a project related to how telecom services are dispatched and scheduled at TDS.
With the company for seven years, she appreciates TDS’ culture of respect, as well as the many opportunities TDS offers to learn and develop or enhance professional skills.
“The company has a solid strategic direction that’s regularly discussed with employees. In addition, leadership openly explains the company’s direction and provides background on the decisions that are made.”
According to Little, the job outlook for professionals interested in working in IT, specifically engineering, is excellent, and during the next few years, she expects to see the field of software engineering expand.
“Programming is applicable in every industry, and technologies are getting more complex,” says Little.
“With continued increases in mobility, the cloud and IoT, devices, systems and appliances are becoming increasingly interconnected. Software engineering is needed to make it all happen. In addition, because all of these technologies produce data, being able to use the data to further technological advances is becoming more prevalent. The result will be continued opportunities to grow, deepen and expand one’s expertise.”
To succeed in this fast-growing field, a willingness to learn is critical, she says. Currently Java, C#, Python, Ruby and JavaScript are the most popular languages, and Little recommends knowing at least one of these languages, along with a related technology stack.
“While it’s important to have a base language or stack that you know very well, don’t get stuck on one specific programming language. New technologies and programming languages come and go. You need to be able to familiarize yourself with them to stay relevant and provide the best solution,” notes Little.
“Software engineering is about solving problems, not just coding.”
While a degree in computer science is not necessary, understanding computer science fundamentals is essential to understanding how things work and creating robust, sound solutions.
“It’s also important to be willing to learn the business, so you add value to the organization,” she concludes.
Traverse tdstelecom.com/careers.html and tdsinc.com/about-us/careers/default.aspx for TDS jobs. Connect on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
 
Goodman Sets Information Services Strategy for M&A at Stryker
With a fierce curiosity of technology and how it can improve lives, Torre Goodman orchestrates the integration or divestment of information services (IS) for mergers and acquisitions at Stryker, a leading medical technology company.
“I’m accountable for setting the IS M&A strategy, resourcing and ensuring successful delivery of our commitments,” says Goodman, information services mergers & acquisitions (M&A) architect.
About his curiosity in technology, he adds: “Information technology provided a platform to exercise my analytical side within an ever-changing environment. I found this to be incredibly exciting as resolving practical or conceptual problems have long been a passion of mine.”
Goodman says his job is eclectic and ranges greatly in terms of deal size and geography. Two interesting projects he recently worked on is leading the IS integration of Mako, a pioneer in the advancement of robotic-arm assisted surgery in orthopaedics, and Trauson, the leading trauma manufacturer in China and a major competitor in the spine segment located in Changzhou.
When he returned to Kalamazoo, MI nine years ago, Goodman was in search of a company that cultivated individual development while providing a culture that allows employees to grow. He found that in Stryker, which is also based in Kalamazoo.
“Stryker has a great reputation as one of the largest and most admired medical technology employers in the U.S.,” says Goodman. “After working at other Fortune 500 companies, I accepted an offer at Stryker, which turned out to be a wonderful fit for my personal and professional goals.”
He also appreciates the people he gets to work with: “Working daily with a globally diverse, talented and driven team pushes one to achieve beyond their own expectations.”
While Goodman’s field is somewhat specialized, he believes the outlook for IS M&A architects is strong.
“As companies look for additional avenues to improve market share, I feel we’ll continue to see significant action within mergers and acquisitions,” he says. “Also organizations looking to improve operational efficiencies through divesting areas that no longer fit their core model will likely continue.”
To move ahead in this specialized field, it’s important to understand your organization’s fundamental strategy and cater solutions accordingly.
“Technologies provide solutions to problems many companies face. While technology gives us a means to achieve an objective, it may not be the best solution,” says Goodman. “Sometimes the greatest value we provide to a project is helping our stakeholders understand where and when to leverage technology.”
For overall career success, Goodman recommends investing time in one’s self by identifying long-term goals and developing a strong career path. “As our lives progress, we can expect our goals will change. Shift accordingly and don’t be afraid to try something new.”
In addition, he advises to work hard, but don’t be afraid of failure or taking risks.
“Some of your greatest achievements will be attributed to the lessons you learned when things didn’t go as planned,” Goodman points out.
See careers.stryker.com for Stryker career opportunities. Connect on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
 
Clark Leads Allianz’s Investment Management & Actuarial Solutions
Once the Twin Cities Teacher of the Year, Melvin Clark’s drive to make change and create efficiency has led him to build a strong career in IT. It has also brought him back to Allianz Life, where he serves as IT director for the company’s investment management and actuarial solutions.
“I own the vision, strategy and solutions that drive these business units. I own the full cycle, from building out apps, to proposing new solutions, to managing the IT roadmap, to dealing with any issues with solutions. My role is somewhat unique,” says Clark.
For instance, one business unit Clark manages rolled 13 apps into one. “We changed the look and feel, and made it web-based to drive efficiencies and cost savings.”
Clark also says he fell into IT. He started his professional career as a kindergarten teacher. But when he needed a job that provided more financial stability to care for his young, growing family, he took a job processing claims for Allianz, which is globally headquartered in Munich, Germany and has offices and locations around the world including in the U.S. in cities such as New York, NY, Chicago, IL, Richmond, VA, San Diego, CA and Minneapolis, MN.
In that role, he found inefficiencies in the application used to process claims, so he redesigned it and submitted it to the IT manager.
“He came back and showed me how it would have been better if I’d redesigned it another way, then offered me a job,” says Clark. “Most of my training is on the job. I ask a lot of questions and am never satisfied.”
The teacher turned IT professional has worked at various organizations through the years, and returned to Allianz about four years ago when he was recruited as a consultant to drive efficiencies. He was drawn back to the company not only for its work-life balance, but also because he sees that the organization is “ripe for change.”
“They’re proactively trying to drive change in the organization,” elaborates Clark. “What I enjoy most is the ability to affect monumental change. Insurance, as an industry, tends to take a conservative approach and rightfully so - you have people’s futures in your hands. But that industry is ripe for change, and Allianz supports me in that and allows me to push the envelope in a conservative way.”
Clark also appreciates Allianz’s great sense of inclusiveness and emphasis on equality.
Having launched and sold two different companies and with various patents in his name, Clark offers two key pieces of advice: Don’t be afraid to fail and be open to trying new things.
“Be a dreamer, think outside box,” he continues. “Embrace change, but also be a change agent. Question everything. Have an unquenchable thirst to learn something different.”
For college students and young professionals, he also says not to be afraid to go into consulting or training.
“You’ll do a lot of things that are menial, but it’s a great way to try new things while having a consistent salary and benefits,” says Clark. “It’ll be a lot of hours in the beginning, but going through that process, you’ll find out what you like and what you don’t like, which will serve you well as you move ahead in your career.”
Access allianz.com/en/careers and allianzlife.com/about/careers for Allianz job opportunities. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Xing.
 
Rufael Directs Ceridian’s IT Service Management & Operations Team
With a background in human resources, Luladey Rufael “stumbled” into IT at Ceridian, a global human capital management technology company, where she’s the director of technology and operations.
“I’ve always been energized by new technology, so this was a perfect next step in my career,” says Rufael, who’s responsible for leading the company’s IT service management and operations team.
She further ensures IT issues are resolved in a timely and efficient manner, drives IT change management initiatives and champions projects involving Ceridian’s IT service management application.
With the Minneapolis, MN-based company for 10 years, Rufael loves her team; in particular, the fact that the team makes an impact on internal customers and that they can see the results of their work first-hand.
“Our job is all about customer satisfaction,” she says. “The challenge in my job is the realization that sometimes we can’t make the customer happy. It’s a balancing act.”
She also loves how Ceridian offers opportunities for its employees to excel. “Managers really care about their employees and work with them to develop and further their careers. I’m a prime example of the result of this mindset, and I try and do the same for my teams.”
To be successful in the IT service management and operations field, it’s critical to understand the business you support, the customers you serve and what’s important to them. Plus, if you don’t already have IT knowledge, then acquire it.
“You certainly don’t need to be an IT expert, but you need to understand the IT area that you lead and the work your team is responsible for delivering.”
Recognizing the importance of prioritization is also key, as is knowing when to say “no” while being aware of how that “no” impacts the company.
The field, she adds, is growing and becoming more global, which means different processes, rules, laws, regulations and cultures, and it impacts the evolution of IT service management.
For overall career success, the IT professional recommends taking risks. “I believe your career is what you make it,” maintains Rufael.
“It’s definitely not always one straight, simple path to the top. I started off by going to school to become a doctor, then moving into the many fields of HR, and now I work in IT. Your career can grow in many different directions and in different ways, through the support of your leaders, friends, family and mentors. ‘Take chances’ is my career motto. Do the unexpected, for it can take you places you never thought you would be.”
Cruise careers.ceridian.com for Ceridian careers. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
 
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