Diversity/Careers in Engineering & Information Technology



June/July 2011

Diversity/Careers June/July 2011 Issue

African Americans in tech
NYPA: Women engineers
BDPA plans conference
ABI's Women of Vision
Atam Dhawan of NJIT
Argonne & Native students

Energy M/WBEs
News & Views
VMX: environmental WBE
Regional roundup
Supplier diversity

Diversity in action
News & Views

Sandia Intel


Myron Edmond is ING's IT director

He oversees a forty-five member team that tests the changes to all insurance services applications for the global financial institution

Every day Myron Edmond has to be ready to face crises and change and meet them with troubleshooting, problem solving and negotiation. As IT director at ING (Atlanta, GA), Edmond oversees a forty-five-member team that tests the changes to all insurance services apps for the global financial institution.

"These applications are used for managing things like customer, policy and financial information for ING U.S. Insurance and ING employee benefits products," Edmond says.

ING is a global financial institution of Dutch origin. It currently offers banking, investments, life insurance and retirement services to a broad customer base.

Edmond notes that in the U.S. ING has grown mostly by acquisition. Because of this, the company has given him opportunities to pursue his passion for problem solving as he advances his career. "In my twenty years with ING, I've been able to work in a different role every two to three years," Edmond reports with pleasure.

ING's insurance services employ eight to ten main applications and more than a hundred supporting systems. The applications have to correctly calculate the customer policy values, of course, and it's up to Edmond's team to ensure that the info the customer receives is accurate and all data is correctly transmitted among systems. The team's testing activities also include transmission to banks and other third parties.

Making it easier
"My specific task is to be sure we are making it easier for our internal business partners, and ultimately for our customers, to do business with us," Edmond says. "The more efficiently we do our job, the faster the company can get the product to the customer."

Team members are stationed in Atlanta, GA; Denver, CO; Minneapolis, MN; and Windsor, CT. They've been geographically dispersed like this for more than ten years.

At first that was a challenge, Edmond says, but now, between technology and experience, the arrangement is second nature to him. The team gets together virtually with Live Meeting and Webcams.

"I continuously look for ways to increase productivity and remove roadblocks for my team," Edmond notes. "As a director I am also involved in direction-setting for the overall process, which includes recommendations on technical solutions."

Strategic planning
Edmond is a strategic planner. He coaches his team members, but also gives them opportunities to make decisions and manage the details. "I try to stay calm and steady and use commonsense influence to improve the team," he says.

Edmond was born and grew up in the small town of Grenada, MS, the only boy out of six kids. When he was in high school in the 1980s there was only one computer class for the 800 students in grades nine to twelve. Nevertheless, the computers captured Edmond's attention.

"Mississippi was not known for its large population of high school or college grads, but I listened to my teachers and learned what they taught me and embraced skills that proved very useful later," Edmond says.

He went on to receive a BS in computer IS from DeVry Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA) in 1990, and from 1990 to 1993 he worked for Life of Georgia (Atlanta, GA) as a senior programmer/analyst; he was responsible for the full lifecycle for multiple small to medium projects.

He moved to ING in 1994, working as a team leader/project manager heading up a group of twelve programmers.

From 1996 to 2000 Edmond was technical architecture manager at ING. He worked on changes to the technical environment, including introducing new technologies into the environment and upgrading the existing environment.

From 2000 to 2002 he was director of infrastructure, bringing in cost-effective, reliable infrastructure to support more than 200 business apps. From 2002 to 2006 he was director of retail legacy applications, managing more than sixty-five people in Atlanta, Minneapolis and Fairfax, VA.

As director of retail life apps from 2005 to 2009 he implemented core systems for new business, underwriting, billing, policy admin, correspondence, policy print, claims and more. All the systems were put in during a single year, he notes.

On to Latin America
Edmond became IT director in Latin America at the beginning of 2009. His job was to work with CIOs in Colombia, Chile, Peru, Mexico and Uruguay, creating a process to track and report progress on reducing their security risks. "One of ING's highest priorities is protecting our customers' personal and financial information," he explains. "We do this by enhancing our security operations to prevent unauthorized access to the ING systems. This was a great opportunity for me to solve a problem by creating a standard process for Latin America."

It was an "eye-opening" experience for him. "I had the chance to see firsthand how other countries view the U.S.," he explains. And all the time he was also doing his current job of director of retail life QA.

Mentoring is learning
He strongly believes that more African Americans should be in IT, and so mentoring has become important to him. "I started mentoring four years ago, and I'm amazed at how much I've learned from my mentees! Maybe it's because hearing yourself answer the mentees' questions makes you surer of your own beliefs and skills," he says.

Last year he became active at the local high school, and he works with Habitat for Humanity and the Latin American Association, an Atlanta support and advocacy group for area Latin American families. He also enjoys woodworking, fishing, golf and spending time with his family, including his eighteen nieces and nephews.

His advice to all: "Always know your personal goals and stay focused on them. When I started in the IT field it was common for techies to hop around to increase their salaries. My goals included more than just a higher salary, and as I moved within one great company, I found I achieved the salary and much, much more."


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