Seek­ing out so­lu­tions

Digital Insurance - - CONTENTS - By Jeff Tay­lor

The abil­ity to adapt in the face of new chal­lenges is not only a nec­es­sary com­po­nent of suc­cess in busi­ness, it is what drives Lorena Ritchey, VP of project de­liv­ery ser­vices within the IT depart­ment at Na­tion­wide. “Be­lieve it or not, I grav­i­tate to­wards prob­lems,” Ritchey says with gusto. “I love to solve a prob­lem!” It is what led her to where she is to­day, she be­lieves. Ritchey has been with Na­tion­wide for more than 20 years, but her road to IT a wind­ing one. Orig­i­nally part of the com­pany's anal­y­sis and pro­gram­ming sec­tors, she found her way into tech through her de­sire to keep learn­ing. “It's not by ac­ci­dent, I think, that I found my­self in IT specif­i­cally. Es­pe­cially at Na­tion­wide, where we look to use and lever­age our tech­nol­ogy to drive our busi­ness,” she says. “I found my­self fas­ci­nated in solv­ing the prob­lems, and just wanted to get closer and closer to build­ing the so­lu­tion. So, I found my way into IT, not ac­ci­den­tally, but through my own cu­rios­ity, be­cause I was al­ways planted in sit­u­a­tions where they needed busi­ness ex­per­tise to solve the prob­lems we had in the busi­ness through tech­nol­ogy.” As Na­tion­wide in­vests more than $550 mil­lion an­nu­ally on IT-en­abled pro­grams and projects in sup­port of its busi­ness strat­egy, it is an im­por­tant area of fo­cus for the com­pany, af­fect­ing its abil­ity to suc­ceed in an ever-chang­ing land­scape. In her cur­rent role, Ritchey is re­spon­si­ble for man­ag­ing a shared PMO ser­vices or­ga­ni­za­tion span­ning all lo­ca­tions, busi­ness units, and cor­po­rate func­tions, and leads ex­ec­u­tives, pro­gram and project man­agers, and an or­ga­ni­za­tional change man­age­ment team, to­tal­ing some 400 as­so­ciates and con­trac­tors. Ef­fi­ciency has im­proved un­der her lead­er­ship, utiliz­ing best prac­tices, such as DevOps and end-to-end Agile, to move the or­ga­ni­za­tion for­ward. The com­pany has also fo­cused on di­ver­sity, and Ritchey took part in an in­ter­view process re­sult­ing in Na­tion­wide win­ning a 2018 Cat­a­lyst Award in honor of its ef­forts to ad­vance women and di­verse groups in the work­place. She is a strong sup­porter of these di­ver­sity ef­forts, and is an ac­tive mem­ber in groups both within and out­side of the com­pany that work to­ward those aims, in­clud­ing the Women in IT Fo­rum, Women in Tech­nol­ogy In­ter­na­tional, and the Women's As­so­ciate Re­source Group. Ad­di­tion­ally, she chairs Na­tion­wide's IT Work­force Ef­fec­tive­ness com­mit­tee and serves as the Ex­ec­u­tive Spon­sor of its Asian Net­work Group. Out­side the com­pany, she founded an or­ga­ni­za­tion sup­port­ing women in their Catholic faith, and sits on the board of the Women's Club at Bishop Wat­ter­son Catholic High School. Ritchey said she firmly be­lieves in the power of “di­ver­sity in all facets.” The com­pany's goals are “try­ing to at­tract younger tal­ent, try­ing to re­tain tal­ent based on ex­per­tise, and also try­ing to at­tract di­verse tal­ent, and that's across the United States.” She also hopes to see more young women en­cour­aged in the STEM fields. Part of that ef­fort has seen her judg­ing a “Girls Can Code Hackathon,” where young women work with men­tors to create an app in a short pe­riod of time, and, more broadly speak­ing, to con­sider a fu­ture for them­selves in the sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy fields. “I want to make sure we use this (Women in Lead­er­ship honor) as a plat­form to en­cour­age our young women, and our women who aren't nec­es­sar­ily young but are try­ing to rein­vent them­selves and want­ing to get back into the work­force, that you can do it,” Ritchey pro­claims. “And es­pe­cially in IT, given the fact that any­body can ed­u­cate them­selves. Any­body can up­skill. You don't have to come from a tra­di­tional de­vel­op­ment back­ground.” “And I'm an ex­am­ple,” she adds. “I came from the busi­ness. I came from op­er­a­tions. I used to process trans­ac­tions in the ser­vice cen­ter. But I had a cu­rios­ity to learn, and I had a de­sire to solve prob­lems, and I'm here. That's the kind of story that I want to tell.”

Lorena Ritchey VP, IT Project De­liv­ery Ser­vices, Na­tion­wide

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