A Winding Road to the IT World
Published: October 23, 2023
For Mutual of Omaha IT professional Maura Ramsey, the path that led to the tech world wasn’t quite a straight shot from college. In this latest installment of Tech Talk, Maura shares her unique journey that started with receiving a degree in marketing and led to a rewarding role in information technology.
00:00 Shonna Dorsey: Welcome to Tech Talk, a podcast featuring employees and leaders discussing all things tech at Mutual of Omaha. Join us to learn what tech professionals can gain from a career with us. Let’s talk tech.
00:12 Brian Poppe: Welcome everyone to another episode of Tech Talk, a Mutual of Omaha sponsored podcast where we talk about all things technology and get to talk to some folks that work here who are doing cool stuff within the IT organization. I’m Brian Poppe, Chief Data Officer at Mutual of Omaha.
00:29 Shonna Dorsey: And I’m Shonna Dorsey an IT Manager at Mutual of Omaha.
00:35 Brian Poppe: So, Shonna, what’s been going on since the last time we got to chat?
00:40 Shonna Dorsey: Let’s see, a few 5K’s I’m sure. Lots of Netflix you know, really spending a lot of time on Seinfeld and other reruns of shows. How about you?
00:51 Brian Poppe: So, I’ve been making my way back through Community, but I do kind of wish that Seinfeld would come back. Like there’s a lot of things that I would love to get that whole ensembles take on. I feel like the NFT craze, I feel like Kramer’s going to make a whole NFT series and would just go bananas with it. Like George is going to try and make one and completely fail. That would be a killer episode!
01:15 Shonna Dorsey: It would. Like do Seinfeld shorts. They don’t even have to commit to full episodes. You know?
01:19 Brian Poppe: Yea. Give me like 5 minutes of their take on all sorts of nonsense. That sounds great. I’ve got a great idea; somebody get Jerry on the phone. So, we’ve got a very special episode today and that will become clear at the end of the episode so, stay tuned. But, joining us today, we’ve got Maura Ramsey. Maura, hello.
01:37 Maura Ramsey: Hello, hello. Thanks for having me today.
01:40 Shonna Dorsey: Yes, thanks for being here. Can you tell us about your path to a Mutual of Omaha?
01:45 Maura Ramsey: So, my path to Mutual is quite the story. It started off when I, well a little bit before this, but I graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a degree in Marketing in 2020.
So, with all that was going on, I was a little unsure about what my future was going to look like. While I was in school, I was interning at a local nonprofit in Omaha, Nebraska, called the Nebraska Tech Collaborative. After graduating, I ended up being offered a full-time position as a program specialist there, working entirely within their tech initiative.
02:27 Maura Ramsey: The mission of this initiative was to develop, attract and retain tech talent to the state of Nebraska. During my time at The Nebraska Tech Collaborative, I was exposed to a lot of the different things going on in IT. From what’s going on in small tech startups to larger enterprise companies like Mutual of Omaha to some of the continuous education programs for upskilling and reskilling.
03:00 Maura Ramsey: I was really able to learn a lot about the incredible opportunities that were being created or available in tech. So, the naturally curious person that I am, I wanted to get experience on the more technical sides of things. I started taking courses at the Omaha Data Science Academy in Nebraska. I ended up receiving my Business Intelligence Certificate from them, getting some exposure to things like Python, Sequel, Tableau.
03:34 Maura Ramsey: It was definitely high-level beginner stuff, but it really did give me a taste of what the capabilities and the future and all the possibilities of these things that are available in IT. So, after taking those courses and really learning about what this IT world is all about, I started to realize I think this is a place for me.
04:02 Maura Ramsey: I actually think that this is a place for a lot of people, and they’ll be surprised to know about all of the opportunities, even if you don’t necessarily have a background in tech like I do. With that said, I wasn’t really sure where to start given my background. So, my first step was just to start reaching out. I had really built a really great network of very knowledgeable, experienced and really just interesting and cool people that are in this industry and IT.
04:32 Maura Ramsey: So, why not utilize them and learn from them? I started getting coffee, meeting up with people, and learning more about their paths into IT. Some of them were, you know, I went to college for this and came out of college and went into this and other stories were a little bit more of a winding road like mine.
04:52 Maura Ramsey: One of the stories that really inspired me was Melissa Pruch’s story, who works at Mutual of Omaha. She ended up graduating with a degree in elementary education, I believe, and got a job at Mutual and is now at a VP Officer level here. So, I was really inspired by this story. I was like, how do you start here and end up at this high level in IT?
05:24 Maura Ramsey: And as I learned more about her story and learned more about other people’s stories at Mutual, I learned that they really provide the resources, the education, and the support to really excel anyone, with any background, into these positions that you may not have ever expected yourself to be in someday. So, I thought that was really inspiring and I thought that was really relatable because like I said, I don’t have this background.
05:53 Maura Ramsey: I wasn’t entirely sure where to get started or where was my entry point. So, this story really motivated me. I’m like, okay, if this can be done, I’m going to do it! So, I kept meeting with people and learning more about what these opportunities were and what was something that would be good for me to kind of break in.
06:14 Maura Ramsey: I was recommended a couple of different positions that aligned with both my interests and my skill set and my experience level and that sort of thing and, I kept an eye on the job board for a little while. When I saw these positions become available, I applied and went through the interview process and started off at Mutual at the end of April, early May of 2022.
06:41 Brian Poppe: Maura, that’s quite a story to go from Marketing to some BI Certificate and then eventually getting the chance to chat with plenty of folks here at Mutual of Omaha. I got to say though, I’m a little offended that I was not your inspirational story since you and I met when you were still working at NTC but, that’s neither here nor there. What would you say that you do here at Mutual?
07:05 Maura Ramsey: So, the position, the role that I have is Associate Business Program Consultant. I work with the Organizational Change Management Team. Otherwise known as the OCM Team. So, a lot of what my team does is help implement change and make sure that everyone knows what is going on, what is about to be going on and making sure that the right people are receiving the right information at the right time.
07:37 Maura Ramsey: So, when doing that, we get to work with, you know, strategies or communication efforts, IT department wide some of its focus with just leadership, some of our other work is specific to area or division. So, I get a lot of exposure to a lot of what’s going on. I get to learn about all the different careers available and opportunities that are offered within Mutual and really what that looks like from an inside view, which has been really great.
08:13 Shonna Dorsey: Good deal. So, you mentioned that you have a lot of variety in your in your work, but what’s your favorite thing about working in IT at Mutual?
08:20 Maura Ramsey: Well, like you said, the variety. I am someone that, I like the challenge, I like change, a little consistency thrown in there is good but, it’s really cool, and I feel like each day is different. Each week is different. I don’t think that I’ve gotten bored once since I started here. Like I said, there is a lot going on, and there is a lot of cool things to be a part of. So really, just the activity and constant change and development is cool, and it keeps you interested. The other thing that I really enjoy about working in IT at Mutual is the culture that has been established here. It’s a culture really stemmed in continuous learning and support around that. I feel like whenever I showed even the slightest bit of interest about a role or a skill or whatever it may be, I have people jumping in from all over the place to take time to teach me more and get me connected to different resources. And I found that to be really, really cool, because I’m someone that learning is very important to me and it’s nice to be around other people that also value that. I’m a very goal-oriented person so it’s been really cool to see how these different things that are going on or these different opportunities can help shape a future for me inside of Mutual and all the different paths that are available. I came from a small non-profit where there weren’t all these opportunities laid out in front of me like there is now. It’s really cool to be able to connect what I’m doing every day and how that’s going to benefit me and create and build a future for me here.
10:09 Brian Poppe: So, for folks like yourself, who, were like you a few months ago before you joined Mutual, what advice would you have for them if their looking for a role here?
10:19 Maura Ramsey: I would say, my number one piece of advice would be, don’t be afraid to reach out! We are in this hybrid world; we are connected in a different way then we used to be. If it wasn’t for the conversations that I had prior to applying, who knows if I even would have ended up applying. There are great things that you can learn from simply reaching out, it doesn’t need to be more than just a conversation about what is out there. I was so surprised at how people were so open and receptive to meeting with me and how passionate they were about learning more about me and trying to figure out what opportunities would be available that would really help me be successful in my career at Mutual. People at Mutual they are very, very proud about the company that they work for and are very passionate about the work that they do. And so, I know anyone here is more than happy to take time, meet with you, and figure out the place for you here. It’s always worth having the conversation because, you don’t know what you don’t know and so you’ve got to figure it out and that can always be done through a simple conversation.
11:40 Shonna Dorsey: Yes, that’s great. So that’s a good segway into the final point here, which is, this is my last show with Brian. So, first of all, Brian, thank you so much for partnering with me on this. Like Maura mentioned, having conversations is what led us here. Brian and I have gotten to know each other over the years and when we were approached about ideas to help spread the word about how great Mutual is, we came up with an idea for a podcast and, here we are today.
12:06 Shonna Dorsey: But I will be moving on from Mutual to another role with a company that Maura actually came from, as its Executive Director. But Maura will also be stepping in as the new co-host with Brian, and that is so exciting. I am looking forward to seeing episodes with you two.
12:23 Brian Poppe: Yeah Shonna. Just want to say thanks for creating the idea and co-hosting with me. We’re certainly sad to see you go but excited for what you can do in the new role. And Maura, we’re certainly excited to see more of you.
12:41 Brian Poppe: Thanks everyone. This has been another edition of Tech-Talk sponsored by Mutual of Omaha. We’ll see you all next time.
12:49 Maura Ramsey: Thank you – Bye.
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