While OneAmerica Financial Partners’ individual life and retirement services organizations are the most visible branches of the company, its experts could not do their work without the innovations of information technology professionals. That’s where people like Jose Martinez, vice president of IT infrastructure and applications management support, come in.
Martinez works to improve IT operations at OneAmerica while reducing costs and increasing innovation. He joined OneAmerica in 2014, after spending the majority of his career in global outsourcing at IBM. In 2013, he completed a one-year assignment with Interactive Intelligence. “I loved that job. It was very fast-paced, a constant challenge, running a cloud environment,” he says.
He joined OneAmerica because he says the financial services provider combined the best of his experiences at Interactive Intelligence and IBM. In his role today, Martinez handles IT operations, which blends the management of structure, process, infrastructure, and applications.
It’s a role well-suited to Martinez’s strengths, but also to his interests. From a young age, Martinez was interested in math and science. In high school, he developed an interest in high-speed cars, but he also became interested in music. He took up the guitar and joined a band, but musical electronics and equipment piqued his interest. “As I was playing music, it was the process behind the scenes— acoustics and electronic processors— that interested me,” he says. “The combination of my interests in music and automobiles got me into math and engineering.”
His interest in music led him to pursue electrical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. However, his passion for automobiles and machines eventually led him to switch to mechanical engineering. In addition, mechanical engineering is a somewhat broader category of engineering, and he wanted that kind of experience as he began his career.
Then the dot-com boom hit, and Martinez’s career path changed. “I started getting into computers in 1994 and 1995,” Martinez says. “The mechanical engineering department at Scientific Atlanta had an IT opening that allowed me to combine both IT and my mechanical engineering background, and I proved I could do it—and that has turned into my full career.”
Music, automobiles, mechanical engineering, and computing all share something in common: their focus on logic and processes. “My first job blended my passion for problem solving with my interests in electronic gadgets and process improvement,” Martinez says. “I fell in love with IT, got my master’s in mechanical engineering, and worked in IT through graduate school.”
Today, as manager of all of OneAmerica’s IT operations—data centers, security aspects, process improvement, and more—Martinez is able to utilize both his IT and engineering expertise. His job, he says, is as much about people development as it is about process development. “I’m constantly solving problems and working with teams to do so,” Martinez says. “Constant improvement and a focus on problem solving are the angles I bring to the table.”
Martinez says his background on the technical side of multiple business functions is a major asset in his current work. It makes it easier to talk to other technical people, and gives him an advantage over people who come in without that experience. It also allows him the ability to simplify the conversation when speaking to business-oriented people, who may not be as technical in nature.
“Our people need our functions online at all times, and so does our business. So I want to bring stability and availability, alongside improvements.”
Martinez’s focus is currently on replacing OneAmerica’s outdated equipment and software, driving continuous improvement within IT operations and developing his organization into a “best of breed” IT operations. The company has a portfolio in place to drive upgrades to its processes and equipment and constantly performs improvements and onboards new software. Martinez says his goal is to bring more structure into the IT function and allow it to resolve issues faster. “That makes us more stable and available to the business, which allows the business to function and do what they need to do each and every day,” Martinez says. “It’s our job to keep the business moving. Our people need our functions online at all times, and so does our business. So I want to bring stability and availability, alongside improvements.”
Application support became one of Martinez’s major responsibilities in 2016, so many of his forward-looking goals involve that function. He’s also committed to aligning IT processes throughout the company, stabilizing the environment and stopping preventable failures.
“I want to see a 10 percent improvement in efficiency by the end of the year,” he adds. “We’re shifting people into their best roles for their skill sets and interests, so they can get more done.”
As he creates new goals for his function, one thing remains: his dedication to logic and processes. That interest first drove him to math, science, and engineering. Today, it serves the business and IT needs of one of the fastest-growing mutual insurance holding companies.
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