July 31, 2015

INTERN REPORT: Transformation is a process

Prafful Patel, MBA candidate, holds an internship position with Nationwide, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio.

“Transformation is a process, not an event.” This quote from the famous change management guru John Kotter summarizes the most important learning that I have taken from my experience working at Nationwide. The company is going through a huge transformation and is replacing its legacy policy administration systems with a packaged software solution. It is huge because the company has decided to put about $9 billion worth of its business on a package system. The company has always been apprehensive to try a packaged solution in the past and therefore it is even more significant. The project will be completed over a period of six years and is an important milestone in the insurance industry as it will encourage/force other players to move away from using their old systems.

Nationwide, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, was founded in 1926 and today generates close to $31 billion in revenue. I attended the National Black MBA career fair in September 2014 and interviewed for my current position at the Nationwide booth and was offered the internship position on the same day. I had an option to choose between Columbus and Cleveland and I chose the former as the entire leadership sits at the Columbus office.

On the first day post our orientation we were all received by our managers and taken out for a lunch where I was introduced to the team and the projects I would be working on. My director who also interviewed me at the MBA fair had recruited me for his project. He has a team of project managers within a division called Delivery Services, an internal consulting arm of Nationwide IT that assigns project managers and requirements analysts to different business units.

A typical day involves juggling work on three different projects that I have been assigned to. The main project assigned to me involves project management work where I am managing and building an information portal that is used to disseminate vital information to the entire organization to help them build their knowledge of a key piece of the organization’s IT strategy. My work includes going through the strategy material and making recommendations on how best the strategy content can be communicated through the portal, presenting my findings to the AVP and other program managers and managing design meetings with all the stakeholders.

The second project involves work on Nationwide’s tier 1 project, which is implementing Guidewire’s Policy Center. I am shadowing the requirements lead on a part of this huge project as a requirements analyst intern.

The last project involves work with the Organizational Change Management team for my department where I am helping another manager to establish a standard framework that can help us effectively communicate any Organizational Change Management information.

While working on our projects we also attend the leader speaker series and information sessions organized by HR every week. These sessions are very beneficial in understanding what the leadership thinks about the company and the industry in general. There are social events planned by the intern committee every week where we explore new places in Columbus.

Nationwide is pretty big on networking and encourages associates to take the time out to develop those relationships. The leaders are always open to having a coffee or lunch with associates and discuss their work and opportunities within their business area. I have been fortunate to have met more than 20 leaders from different business areas during my internship and take their advice for my career at Nationwide and outside of it.

Nationwide as a company also encourages a lot of volunteer work and is known as a brand that closely invests in the local community. Nationwide’s children hospital and partnership with Feeding America are just a few examples of the company’s involvement in the community. As interns, we are encouraged to register for volunteer hours from the several available initiatives. I volunteered at the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and helped them with the Garden Maintenance work.

As the internship comes to an end in two weeks I delivered my senior speech last week, which gave me an opportunity to portray my internship experience in front of the senior leadership. I have worked for close to six years in the technology space in similar roles before but what set this experience apart was the deep insurance industry knowledge that I gained from an industry leader.

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