The Hartford: a diverse slate of leaders and thinkers
This company recognizes that from ethnicities to lifestyles to generations, diversity offers an opportunity to learn from each other
Young IT professionals are gaining access to careers at the Hartford Financial Services Group Inc (Hartford, CT) via an exciting technology leadership development program (TLDP). Add to that strong support for both young and seasoned professionals in a corporate culture that places high value on the importance of workplace diversity.
"The TLDP is integral to our long-term strategy to maintain a healthy pipeline of talent for the future, as participants represent the next wave of IT leaders," says George M. Burnett, assistant VP of strategic initiatives and technology development programs and training.
"Participants focus on various roles, including architect, business analyst, project manager, application developer and database administrator. They rotate through jobs over the course of three years," he explains.
The Hartford offers a variety of programs under its early career professional umbrella, of which TLDP is one, he adds. Leadership programs are also available in other areas, like finance, actuarial and operations.
"The goal is to provide high-potential employees the opportunity to rotate through a number of diverse and increasingly complex assignments. The three-year experience builds foundational skills that prepare candidates with general managers' capabilities. We expect these employees to be the future leaders of our company," Burnett predicts.
The company seeks a diverse slate of "broad thinkers" who can apply technology to business problems, "not traditional coders," Burnett says. "We need people with strong project management and business analysis skills, as well as people who are great communicators."
In addition to the TLDP employees, the company has college interns, as well as Pathways to Technology high school students joining as summer interns. The Pathways program connects students from a diversely populated magnet school to the company and exposes them to corporate life.
The Hartford works with several colleges and universities to recruit young professionals into its leadership development programs. Alumni also play an important role in helping to identify colleges and universities where the company can find great talent.
Right now the TLDP focuses on undergrads, but as the program continues to grow it may expand to include grad students and others, Burnett says. "Early career professionals who have already been in the workforce for a couple of years also have great promise. It's all about finding, developing and retaining people for the long term," he says.
All employees can tap into mentoring programs and connect with senior leaders for career guidance and support, Burnett says. One mentoring program within the TLDP helps employees develop business analysis and project management skills.
A "reverse mentoring" program pairs top talent in the TLDP with senior executives to create an awareness of how social media, emerging technologies and related trends can drive business value. The idea for this program came from a group of young professionals in the TLDP.
"It's an interactive, hands-on partnership in which executives can experience the changing consumer marketplace, generate insight and see the market through the eyes of a millennial." Burnett explains. "It's a fascinating experience!"
The program helps break down stereotypes. "This has been widely successful, and our CEO Liam McGee will often reference it. It works across generations to help us realize the tremendous value of diverse perspectives which often spur creativity and innovation," he says. The Hartford also has several employee resource groups including the Asian Pacific Professional Network, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Organization Benefiting Everyone (GLOBE), Professional Women's Network, Black Insurance Professionals Network, Hispanic Leadership Network, Young Professionals Stepping Up (YoPros) and the Military Community Network (MilComm).
The Hartford does community work around the country, and employees have several opportunities to volunteer. Members of Burnett's leadership development program participate in a variety of community outreach programs, including Math Buddies, Reading Buddies and Boys and Girls Clubs of America. "Volunteering is ingrained in our culture," Burnett says.