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August/September 2010

Diversity/Careers August/September 2010 Issue




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Managing
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Managing

Tara Tinsley Pelitere is a CTO at the Federal Reserve Board

"A big part of the job is ensuring that we use our technologies in an effective, efficient and compliant manner," she says.


Tara Tinsley Pelitere: “At the Federal Reserve Board we have a large range of responsibilities so we wear many hats.”Management is the largest division of the Federal Reserve Board (FRB, Washington, DC), with operations that cover HR, financial management, physical security and facilities management. Tara Tinsley Pelitere is deputy associate director and division chief technology officer (CTO), responsible for technology covering administrative services.

Big job, big challenges
It's a major job with many challenges. The FRB uses PeopleSoft Human Capital Management for HR and payroll and the Oracle e-business suite for financials. In addition to supporting the Board's ERP applications, her team also supports smaller applications including a data warehouse and a budget reporting system and interfaces with third-party-hosted environments for recruiting and travel.

Pelitere has overall responsibility for all automation and technology in the division from the ERP applications to the Board's security system and facility management applications. "A big part of the job is ensuring that we're using our technologies in an effective, efficient and compliant manner," she says.

Administration is important
Attention is spent on ERP applications. Employees and vendors have to be paid accurately and on time. The FRB also voluntarily complies with Sarbanes-Oxley for corporate governance and financial practice. "The FRB is risk-averse, and we must maintain public trust," Pelitere says.

One of the biggest challenges is the FRB's low tolerance for mistakes. Within her function Pelitere has to make sure administrative systems run smoothly "so economists and others can concentrate on keeping the economy going and not be slowed down with administrative services," she says.

"Another challenge is the workload. There's a lot I'm trying to do and it's not a huge staff. We have a large range of responsibilities so we wear many hats."

Management lessons
Pelitere has forty people who report to her and coordinates the efforts of fourteen more. "As a manager, I am somewhat demanding but believe in flexibility," she says. "I believe in trying to find the right fit for each person so everyone can enjoy what they're doing instead of just coming to a job every day."

Pelitere had to learn to listen to others when she first became a manager. "I didn't fully understand the importance of keeping my mouth shut while listening to their points of view and hearing out their ideas before I presented mine. One of the biggest things I've learned is to be open and care about the softer skills."

Technology governance
One of Pelitere's responsibilities is to implement and maintain an infrastructure that effectively incorporates and governs all technology in the division. She created a technology governance department with a dedicated senior project manager, a senior configuration manager and a senior compliance analyst. They report to her, and look at the whole division to find best ways to improve and maintain operations. Change control boards and an executive technology board have been added and policies and procedures have been created that reach out across all aspects of technology in the division.

"It has taken a while to get everything put together. Not everyone is used to it. For some people it's taken a while to see the value in it," Pelitere says.

Learning IT hands-on
Pelitere grew up in the small town of Clifton Forge, VA. She graduated near the top of her high school class and discovered her career by chance while attending James Madison University (Harrisonburg, VA). She'd switched majors from law to business but hadn't decided on the specific aspect. But she worked her way through college at the marketing office of a local resort and learned IT hands-on.

"I started out as a telemarketer/ reservationist and soon moved to the computer operations department, where I first did data entry and then helped build parts of their computer application system," Pelitere says.

She got a BBA in December 1992, a degree that combined computer information systems and business. And she'd picked up hands-on experience with HR, accounting and finance throughout her career.

Her first job out of school was with the IS team for PRC Inc (McLean, VA), first as a technical writer, then as an associate computer analyst implementing PRC's PeopleSoft system. Next she worked as a PeopleSoft consultant for Business Information Technology (Concord, CA) implementing PeopleSoft HR systems and developing intricate labor front-end systems that interfaced with PeopleSoft payroll. She later became an independent contractor, naming her company System Implementation Solutions.

Joining the board
Pelitere worked at the FRB as a consultant from 1995 to 1997. "Working as a consultant for a firm and having my own business as an independent consultant really helped me learn a lot at a very fast pace," Pelitere says. "I think owning my own business helped me. I've always had a strong work ethic, and I don't believe I would have been as successful if I didn't."

In July 1998 the FRB brought her in permanently as the PeopleSoft project lead. She's been promoted several times since then: in 2001 to lead the PeopleSoft and Oracle Financials applications; in 2004 to oversee all aspects of the branch: PeopleSoft, Oracle, infrastructure/database, data warehouse and more. That was the year she completed her MSIT with honors at George Washington University (Washington, DC).

In 2006 Pelitere was promoted to official staff as assistant director. She took over her CTO job last year.

Mentoring and more
Pelitere participates in a mentor program in the FRB's management division. She also mentors other women who have asked her to, and she's a member of the service-oriented Sigma Gamma Ro sorority.

She's also a mom with a two-year-old and a seventeen-year-old. "I work all the time. My husband is great, and I have my aunt who moved in to help me with the kids.

"It has always been a challenge. When my oldest daughter was little I was consulting and had to travel a lot. That was the biggest reason I took the job at the FRB."

She works very hard during the week, often twelve to fourteen hours a day, so she won't have to come in on the weekends. "The weekends are just for my family," Pelitere declares.

D/C



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