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August/September 2010

Diversity/Careers August/September 2010 Issue




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Diversity In Action

Fannie Mae seeks IT folks to bring new energy to the operation

There are about 120 active openings in operations and technology. Fifty-plus techies are brought in every month in DC, Virginia and Dallas, TX


VP Darlene Slaughter: awareness will be part of the orientation process. In the past year Fannie Mae has moved to add more recent college grads to its Operation and Technology division. "Gone are the days when we hired only people with five years of experience," says Mike Kessler, director of recruiting. "Today we're open to energetic people who come from an IT academic background and will bring new energy into our operation."

Fannie Mae operates in the U.S. secondary mortgage market. It works with mortgage bankers, brokers and primary mortgage market partners to ensure they have funds to lend home buyers at affordable rates.

IT staff plays "a very important role" in Fannie Mae's operations, Kessler says, with the opportunity to work on many cutting-edge technologies. Developers, for example, are working on new apps and enhancing existing ones. Analysts gather customer requirements and implement software projects. Also needed are network, system and database admins, plus info security and QA pros.

"We find that many of our IT pros are coming from banking, mortgage and financial backgrounds, so they come in with experience. Others learn cross-functional skills through other work at Fannie Mae," Kessler says.

The company's turnover is quite low, but there were about 120 active openings in Operations and Technology this summer. Average hiring is some fifty-plus technology pros every month in Washington, DC, Herndon and Reston, VA and Dallas, TX. Skills usually needed are Java, .NET and Ab Initio for application developers; SAS and Unix for data warehouse specialists and analysts; Oracle and SQL for database, system and admin network staff; Oracle WebLogic, NQ series and JBoss in the systems area.

"People who are exceedingly flexible and have communication skills are important for us," Kessler says. "You are rarely working independently. There are project teams and other workers to deliver things for, so written and verbal skills are critical. And with our matrix management environment, the ability to work with a variety of cross-functional teams is important."

To increase the number of new college recruits, the IT group launched a university-focused program last fall, identifying some thirty December grads. Fannie Mae is also starting a pilot co-op program with Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA) for half a dozen students.

Janet Russell, a member of the diversity team, notes that Fannie Mae started looking at Gen Millennium candidates because "There's so much we could learn from them."

Fannie Mae is eager to recruit diverse candidates, Kessler says. It has partnerships with Women in Technology, NSBE, the Hispanic Circle and Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA). "We are also considered an employer of choice for technology pros, particularly in Washington," Kessler says. Fannie Mae has an ongoing partnership with Howard University to hire students in the DC area, and a partnership with Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX.

Fannie Mae's 6,800-person workforce is 46 percent female and 49 percent minority. "We're building on the successful diverse workforce already put together," Kessler says.

Darlene Slaughter, VP and chief diversity officer, discloses that Fannie Mae is working on a program for diversity and inclusion awareness which will be part of the orientation process. There's also a classroom training program open to all employees.

There are employee resource groups (ERGs) at Fannie Mae for people of African ancestry, Asian Hindus, Hispanics, young professionals, MBAs, Asians, Christians, LGBT and friends, Muslims and women.

"We've had diversity programs in place since 1992," Slaughter says. "Some of these groups are new, but others have been around a long time."

Each of the groups has a sponsor from the executive committee who provides them with feedback and support. Fannie Mae recently piloted an open mentoring program for resource group participants, with directors, officers and managers serving as mentors.

"Senior execs are focused on growing and building talent and leadership capabilities within the organization," Slaughter points out. "We meet with officers of each ERG in a quarterly forum to focus on leadership skill building."

The groups also help with Fannie Mae's huge volunteer initiative. The goal for volunteer hours this year is 30,000, done in many local communities. "They work on leadership, talent development and community concerns like foreclosure prevention, a homelessness initiative and supplier diversity," Slaughter says. Other volunteer initiatives include children's programs and financial literacy. Employees are given ten hours of volunteer leave a month to devote to their good works.

As for work-life balance, "We pretty much have all of it," Slaughter says with pride. That includes access to an onsite gym at HQ, an eldercare program and an onsite emergency childcare center. Fannie Mae also focuses on health and wellness, including walking programs "which are a lot of fun for a lot of people," Slaughter says.

Other programs are as varied as adoption assistance for families, and tuition aid for degree programs.

Telecommuting and flextime arrangements are also possibilities, based on business needs. "We review arrangements on a regular basis to make sure they're applied consistently," Slaughter says.

D/C



Fannie Mae
www.fanniemae.com

Headquarters: Washington, DC
Employees: 6,800
Revenues: $39.3 billion
Business: Secondary mortgage market

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