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Managing

Milton Moore Jr: CTO & SVP at Freddie Mac

"I came here to develop the technical infrastructure," he says. "I think that providing finances for Americans to own a home is a great thing."

 

Freddie Mac CTO Milton Moore, at left, networks with Dennis Dowdell and Julia Scrivens of the Exec Leadership Council and Gary Simms, Freddie Mac IT manager.

Freddie Mac CTO Milton Moore, at left, networks with Dennis Dowdell and Julia Scrivens of the Exec Leadership Council and Gary Simms, Freddie Mac IT manager.

Milton Moore Jr considers himself more a coach than a manager to the 900 employees who report to him at Freddie Mac (McLean, VA). He is the senior VP and CTO of the ops and technology division.

Freddie Mac is a stockholder-owned mortgage finance company that supports home ownership by buying residential mortgages and mortgage-related securities, and issuing mortgage-related securities and debt instruments in the capital markets. The company was chartered by Congress in 1970, and since then it has had a hand in one out of every six residential mortgages.

Freddie Mac is heavy on knowledge workers, light on administrative and clerical folks. Techies make up nearly a quarter of its 5,200 full-time employees.

"The company is really driven by technology," Moore says.

Getting it done
Moore joined Freddie Mac in 1995 as VP of computer network ops. Rapidly changing technology demanded upgrades and Moore was tapped to get it done. He led a staff of 200 regular employees, seventy-five consultants and thirty temps. "I came into the organization to move it forward," he says.

In 2000 he advanced to SVP of technology infrastructure and ops, which gave him more responsibility for advancing the technical infrastructure. The CTO title was added in 2004, recognizing responsibilities he'd held for some time.

During Moore's ten years at Freddie Mac, mortgage loan processing time has gone from months to seconds. Advances in technology have made the refinancing and home ownership boom possible.

"We have transformed the whole mortgage industry," Moore says.

Balance and participation
Moore establishes the direction for technology architecture, but invites participation by his associates. His door is always open to anyone who needs time with him.

"If I teach them everything I know, my job gets a little easier," he says.

He is confident that the excellent staff he's cultivated can handle their work capably in his absence. In fact, he leaves the laptop in the office when he's on vacation. He encourages his execs to balance their work and family lives, too.

Becoming a techie
Moore grew up in a blue-collar family in Poolesville, MD. His father was a lumber company foreman and his mother a domestic worker.

He entered community college as a zoology major, but the Vietnam War interrupted his education in 1970. After the war he stayed in the military, stationed in Germany as a computer programmer. While there he earned an associates degree in CS through the City College of Chicago, IL.

Full-time at Geico
In 1732 he was discharged, married and working fulltime at insurer Geico (Chevy Chase, MD). He started night classes at Northern Virginia Community College and transferred to Columbia Union College (Takoma Park, MD), completing a BS in accounting in 1988.

He held increasingly responsible positions in production control, computer programming and analysis, system software and application programming at Geico. His successes with difficult assignments put him at the helm of the tech systems and data services division in 1992. "I've always looked for the challenging assignments," he says.

Life at Freddie Mac
Bill Ledman, Moore's mentor at Geico, left for Freddie Mac and asked Moore to join him. He resisted at first, but the opportunity to help the company grow, combined with a shorter commute, overcame his resistance.

Being one of few African Americans in this highly technical field was never an issue, says Moore, "because the important thing is to have the skills and knowledge to get the job done."

"We have a very diverse culture of employees," Moore says. "I couldn't ask for a better team of people."

A special calling
Moore's son drew him into coaching Little League for ten years and football for ten more. He loves working with young people, a special calling he discovered through his church.

He serves on the board of trustees for the Phillips Program for Children and Families, a school specializing in helping children with emotional and learning disabilities. The Freddie Mac Foundation supports the school financially.

Moore intends to teach in public school after he retires. "I can't solve world hunger, but maybe I can turn one kid around and then I'll turn another one," he says. "I'll never quit."

In the technical community
Currently Moore is helping his team of managers and Joe Smialowski, Freddie Mac's EVP of ops and technology, to establish a BDPA chapter in northern Virginia.

BDPA Founder Earl Pace has sponsored Moore as a new member of the IT Senior Management Forum, a network of top-level CIOs that works closely with BDPA. He is also a participant in the TTI/Vanguard (www.ttivanguard.com) advanced technology and strategy conferences, where senior execs discuss future applications of technology. "It gives you insight," he says.

Moore has an inner direction as well as a professional one. He lists his priorities as first God, next his family and then his job.

On the job, he has enjoyed his opportunities and experiences. He's gratified to be part of an important piece of American life at Freddie Mac. "I think that providing finances for Americans to own a home is a great thing," he says.

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