has a vested interest in how Aflac excels in a number of areas
including philanthropy, diversity, environment, etc., works
together for a greater good. While participating in this role
isn’t technically in her job description, Pat takes it seriously.
She sees the value and visibility that volunteering brings to
Pat spent seven years in technology with Indianapolis Life
before beginning her 20-year tenure at Aflac, first in applica-
tion development and ultimately moving into the infrastruc-
ture side of the business. “Part of why you choose to work at
Aflac is because of that dimension,” she says. “From a corpo-
rate viewpoint, in today’s environment, you’re not always go-
ing to find a corporation that operates in the manner that Aflac
has. And so you want to contribute to that. I occasionally stop
and think, ‘I’ve worked at some really great places, but never
to the extent that I’ve seen or experienced working here.’ I
want to have others recognize what Aflac does and come join
No one can deny that the accolades help the visibility and
advancement of IT, but Pat says that’s not the big picture. “IT
gets pretty good visibility anyway, because we’re so much a
part of what the business needs. And we are part of the busi-
ness. So I think we get an appropriate amount of showcase and
With CSR report deadlines set and discussed, we head back
to the ITC for an enterprise systems budget meeting. Attended
by eight staffers, most of whom I’d met in the operational re-
view meeting earlier that day, each awaits their turn to discuss
the numbers for which they are responsible. Budget meetings
can be dry, but we all know they’re necessary, Pat says.
It’s 2 p.m., and we’re ready for lunch in Pat’s office. But
before we can eat, Debbie arrives at Pat’s door to go over a
presentation for the reorganization meeting. Knowing what
the rest of the afternoon has in store and that she won’t have
time to finish the presentation slides, Pat had e-mailed Debbie sometime in the past two hours, asking for her help. Pat
quickly explains the status of the slides and what needs to be
done. It’s clear Pat has built an efficient two-way communica-
Adjusting to a New Role
In mId-January, Pat rayl, previously 2nd VP of It at aflac, accepted a
new position, VP of technical process management. “my day is just as busy,
but very different,” she says.
With the goal to align more strongly with aflac’s various business delivery
segments, the insurer’s technology department underwent a reorganization.
aflac collected previous managers from its project management office to
create a resource pool and realigned that group within the business vertical.
Individuals within its professional services organization also were moved into
those business verticals.
In her previous role Pat was infrastructure-focused, responsible for It
operations, areas of the data center, system availability, etc.—a role that won
her Honoree status in INN’s 2010 Women in Insurance leadership award
program. now, under aflac CIO mike Boyle’s direction, Pat heads up a new
group made up of five parts: a testing practice, a software quality assurance
team, a software change management team, a team focused on various It
environments and release management and an enterprise project office.
mike is looking to Pat to improve process standards control, putting best
practices in place to help delivery capabilities. “now our enterprise project
office oversees the status of project activities and presents the information
to our steering committee for new-project approval,” she says. “So a
coordination of information that enables our steering committee to make
project portfolio decisions [is my and my team’s responsibility].”
That process begins with the software quality assurance team and into
testing and so on. and if the It environments team plays a role, it delves into
what type of environments they need for their development efforts.
“It’s already been pretty interesting,” she says. The pieces of the
reorganization are still falling into place, as positions are being filled. “I
definitely have a different group than I did previously.”
Pat, at press time, has six direct reports, including a second VP responsible
for all the around-the-clock testing in the aflac campus as well as offshore in
India. She also has a number of senior managers—who head other functional
areas—who report to her.
In bet ween meetings Pat is able to catch up on voicemails,
e-mails and phone calls, often at the same time.
The relationship between Pat and her reports, including aflac
Business Systems analyst II debbie lewis (right), is a two-way
street, making communication of utmost importance.
Much of Pat’s day is spent understanding and confronting the
challenges her team faces and gaining insight into the current It
projects in process.
march/aPriL 2012 insurance networking news 15