Diversity/Careers in Engineering & Information Technology



October/November 2011

Diversity/Careers October/November 2011 Issue

Champions of diversity
Anniversary: two top women
Disabled veterans
Green technology
Financial IT
BDPA conference

Defense suppliers
News & Views
Regional roundup
Supplier diversity

Diversity in action
News & Views

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers DRS Technologies

Diversity In Action

Mayo runs the latest IT along with advanced medical care

The clinic has a huge, cutting-edge IT shop that uses the latest technology for everything. It offers work venues in several different locations

The Mayo Clinic is a great place for diverse techies. It has a huge and cutting-edge homegrown IT shop that uses the latest technology for everything from research to billing, a female cardiologist who chairs the clinic's extensive diversity outreach initiatives for employees, and multiple work venues: the original and world-famous clinic in Rochester, MN as well as additional locations in Arizona, Florida, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Sharonne Hayes, MD, heads up the office of diversity and inclusion. Dr Hayes says, "We try to make Mayo Clinic well-known to people. It's a healthcare company, but we want computer science people to think of it as a place for a career." She notes that Rochester, MN, with a population of 100,000, is a great place to live and work.

Diversity initiatives have been important to Mayo for a long time, Hayes says. That's because of the desire to attract diverse technology-minded talent.

Hayes, a cardiologist, took over her job as diversity chief two years ago, spurred on by her interest in better representation of women in cardiology. "My diversity role takes up half my time," she says, but she's also found time to start up a women's heart clinic.

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical practice and research group with locations in Rochester, MN; Jacksonville, FL; Scottsdale and Phoenix, AZ; plus the Mayo Clinic Health System, which has more than seventy hospitals and clinics in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. The organization also has several colleges of medicine: Mayo Medical School, Mayo Graduate School, the Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education and the Mayo School of Health Sciences. Mayo specializes in hard-to-treat diseases and integrates the practices of more than 3,700 medical doctors.

Mayo's IT efforts started some forty years ago, says Jessica Grosset, the IT chair for Mayo Clinic Rochester. At the time there was a strong interest in using automation in many areas, but not a lot of vendors with solutions. So Mayo's computer department "became a home-grown shop" until the late '80s, when Mayo brought in outside platforms and IT specialists to design, test and implement programs and be on call. The products covered both software and hardware; the IT pros included DBAs and software developers in every computer language on every operating system.

"Mayo needed a laboratory computer system," Grosset says. "The original system was developed on DEC VAX machines and we became experts at that. Then we needed a business system, and developed it ourselves mainly because of our size. Vendors couldn't handle our size and number of transactions, so we said, 'We'll write the systems ourselves.'"

During the past twenty-five years a composite solution has evolved.

"We decided we'll buy from the market if we can, and where we can't find it in the marketplace we develop it in house," Grosset says. "We have experts who can do everything that's required and others who are liaisons with the vendors and provide the interface between the vendor and the business or clinical area. We have five or six large data centers across the country and we support them."

The total IT operation is about 1,500 people. Although turnover is low, Mayo usually has fifty to a hundred open positions in IT, Grosset says.

For example, .Net developers are in demand. Other needed skills have to do with vendors and systems Mayo supports, like the Health Quest system, a legacy mainframe billing system that runs on an IBM platform. But, "If you have the right attitude we're willing to train you," Grosset says. "Our staff runs from experts to folks just out of college."

The HR department works with Grosset to map out the colleges, career fairs and organizations they'll visit to attract diverse techies at all experience levels. These include SWE, SHPE and BDPA. Mayo also works with local colleges on co-ops and internship programs.

Mayo has an extensive new-employee orientation for everyone from kitchen and custodial staff to IT pros, physicians and scientists. The orientation includes cultural competency training, and, "After that we have a strong diversity curriculum through the HR department," Hayes says.

Mayo has diversity committees at all three of its major sites and a diversity oversight committee to provide leadership. The diversity networking groups were formed several years ago. "We helped organize them and provided infrastructure for them," Hayes says, "and we're in the process of offering a higher level of management to affinity groups that want it."

Mayo has multiple mentoring initiatives and each division or department has its own mentoring program. "There's a particular effort to attract, retain and mentor diverse people, women in particular," Hayes says.

There's also an extensive work-life balance program offering flextime, part-time and flexible benefits. There's backup child care, sick child care, an extensive employee assistance center to help with eldercare resources and referral; even spousal employment services. "If the ideal candidate comes with a spouse who isn't in medicine, we can accommodate them, too," Hayes says with a smile.

Mayo sponsors events for local students and is involved in the local public school systems and colleges. It has strong partnerships with the University of Minnesota and the University of Arizona, and a partnership with IBM to jointly sponsor events to attract more girls into engineering and IT. It also co-sponsors summer camps for high school girls and science awareness fairs for high school and middle school students, Hayes says.



Headquarters: Rochester, MN
Employees: 56,100
Revenues: $7.9 billion
Business: Not-for-profit medical practice and medical research

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