Employee Stories - Women in Tech

Women in Tech: Three Perspectives

What’s it like to be a woman in technology – and more specifically, a woman in technology in the insurance industry? We checked in with three employees of The Hartford, each in different areas of IT and at different stages of their careers.
Jo Ann Tan is vice president and head of The Hartford’s IT infrastructure, and has been with the company for 12 years. Adithya Karunanidhi Puvaneson is a data engineer who has been with the company for eight years, first as a consultant and more recently as a full-time employee. Hannah Albert had just earned her graduate degree in IT from the University of North Carolina Charlotte when she came on board as a developer three years ago.
Let’s hear what these three women have to say about technology and the insurance industry, the tech trends they’re excited about, some of the challenges they face, and their advice for other women in tech.
Jo Ann Tan employee testimonial
“The Hartford has kept things interesting and challenging with assignments of increasing complexity and impact each year.”
– Jo Ann Tan, Vice President & Head of IT Infrastructure
What led you to a career in technology at an insurance company?
Jo Ann: I joined The Hartford after consulting in the U.S. and Asia for many years. I was interested in learning more about the insurance industry, but candidly, I wondered how I would adjust to what I thought would be a slower pace. But The Hartford has kept things interesting and challenging with assignments of increasing complexity and impact each year.
Adithya: I started my career at The Hartford because of the tech opportunities. I’ve since learned how insurance really helps people in times of loss, and how technology helps us serve our customers more effectively and efficiently. So I love the work and feel good about the difference it makes.
Hannah: I met representatives from The Hartford at my college career fair and was impressed by what they had to say about the company and its IT direction, especially from a digital perspective. I was fortunate to eventually be hired as a member of The Hartford’s newly formed digital team.
Adithya Karunanidhi Puvaneson employee testimonial
I’ve … learned how insurance really helps people in times of loss, and how technology helps us serve our customers more effectively and efficiently.”
– Adithya Karunanidhi Puvaneson, Data Engineer
What are some of the myths people may have about a tech job at a 200-year-old insurance company like The Hartford?
Jo Ann: Insurance companies are traditionally thought of as stodgy and slow to adopt new technologies, but a tech job at The Hartford is exciting! We are definitely leading and competing on multiple fronts.
Adithya: There’s a common perception that insurance companies offer limited opportunities for young techies seeking innovative places to work. But based on my experience at The Hartford, insurance companies are constantly bringing in new technologies to keep pace with customer needs and demands.
Another myth I’ve heard is that professional credentials are recommended in insurance to get ahead, and while they may be helpful, they’re not always essential.
Hannah: The Hartford does a great job at keeping those myths as myths and not the reality. Leadership thinks continuously about what’s new and what we can try while also being aware of the risks. So we are both on trend and upholding our legacy as a 200-year-old company.
Hannah Albert employee testimonial
It’s an exciting time for innovation at The Hartford, and an exciting team to be a part of.”
– Hannah Albert, Developer
What emerging tech trends are getting you most excited right now?
Jo Ann: Too many to mention! But let’s start with the IT market, which is advancing at a revolutionary pace, thanks to a new internet project delivery model that makes engineering code open to any developer who wishes to participate.
At The Hartford, we are digitizing our IT operations so that our technology infrastructure is increasingly software-defined and cloud-based, which makes it more agile, flexible, and efficient. We have adopted modern work practices such as Agile, DevOps, Hybrid Cloud, and Inner/Open Sourcing, and our teams are collaborating, innovating and delivering at a level surpassing prior years. We also recently launched our own site on the open source community, possibly a first step toward contributing to the market in a material way.
Adithya: So many exciting technologies are emerging for data engineers, including the Talend ETL cloud tool; Hadoop, an open-source software framework for storing and processing data at higher volumes to enhance the application functionality, and new data analytical tools, such as Spark, Talend, R-Programming, and Tableau.
Hannah: The digital team is employing many tech innovations, from enhanced application development standards to enforcing new in-trend development languages and tools. Containerization and automation of code deploys alongside accelerated testing in a collaborated agile workspace, all of which have given me the opportunity to give my best, learn and grow as we speak. It’s an exciting time for innovation at The Hartford, and an exciting team to be a part of.
How do you ensure a seat at the table in what is perceived as a male-dominated career field?
Jo Ann: I don’t make it an option; I just go. I confronted this challenge countless times, but refuse to allow it to be a deterrent. I would encourage anyone in the same situation to do the same, but I admit, it is not easy, and requires determination and practice.
Adithya: I speak up for myself when there’s a need, and strive to be open-minded and resilient, which has helped me in many situations. I also focus on the business needs first and technology second, which gained me the trust of my business customers who always turn to me for my opinion.
Hannah: It may be perceived as a male-dominated field, but that does not disqualify me from having a voice. We all have something to offer, and being the best I can continuously gets me a seat at the table.
How do you balance your personal passions with work?
Jo Ann: It’s a matter of prioritizing, and seeking balance over the longer term. In my experience, it’s a fallacy to believe balance is possible every hour of every day.
Adithya: I set aside time for personal and professional development activities throughout the week. I’m passionate about fitness, and take advantage at The Hartford’s fitness facility during the workday and run after work. Through The Hartford’s Lunch and Learn sessions, I’ve been introduced to new IT development practices, tools, and technologies.
Hannah: Discipline at work is key. By working my regular hours with complete dedication and focus, I can accomplish more than I planned to, and have the time to follow my personal passions after normal work hours.
What’s the one bit of advice you’ve gotten that you’d want every woman in tech to know?
Jo Ann: There will be obstacles. Just be ready for them. Keep focused, persevere, and deliver, and stay true to yourself.
Adithya: Having the passion and determination to learn and swim your way through is the key to competing in the tech world. Explore and say yes to the opportunities that come your way, and you will succeed.
Hannah: You don’t have to know everything. Be open to learning along the way. When you fall or you get stuck, it’s okay, just learn from the experience, pick yourself up and keep moving.
Learn more about an exciting career in Tech & Data at The Hartford.
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