Operations & Technology: A Diverse and Innovative Team
by Daphane Womack, Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager, Office of Operations & Technology
Fannie Mae's Office of Diversity and Inclusion often references the motto, "Inclusion is the way we do business." In an effort to fully embrace that value, our Operations & Technology team conceptualized and implemented the Operations & Technology Diversity and Inclusion Program in 2014. The team sought out the opportunity to develop a talented workforce reflective of our community, which would further enable innovation within the company and produce better solutions for our partners and homebuyers. O&T (as the team is affectionately referred to) also wanted to ensure that we created a workplace that empowers everyone to take a seat at the table and gives them the comfort to bring their whole selves to work. In just 4 years, we have made great strides toward those goals. O&T has partnered with Ascend, Hispanic IT Executive Council (HITEC), Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF), and Women in Technology (WIT) to offer rich developmental opportunities, exposure, and skill development to our workforce.
I became involved with the O&T Diversity and Inclusion Program by happenstance. I have always had my own interest in promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and when the opportunity was presented to me to develop and manage a program within O&T, I welcomed it. It was no secret that diversity and inclusion was a growing issue for the technology industry. I knew that this would be an important challenge that I needed to contribute to solving. Watching these efforts produce positive results has been extremely gratifying and motivating.
I asked some of my colleagues to share what it's been like to work in O&T, and they had some great stories to offer.
Working in O&T at Fannie Mae was a game changer for me and here is why:
I feel empowered: I am able to contribute to the numerous organizational changes that target progress at Fannie Mae. I have been able to positively impact the value O&T brings to our business, create a greater balance within the teams I manage, and to realign our strategy so that it’s in service to our company’s goals. Moreover, I was empowered to make recommendations to take smart risks, and if our direction needed to change, to move forward in this new direction fast without being chastised. I was given ample chances to generate successful outcomes from my learnings.
I never feel stagnant or bored: There is so much innovation, continuous improvement, collaboration, and skills enhancement going on that I never feel bored in O&T. Lessons learned from previous projects are often shared so that we don't get stuck in a rut. And, we utilize tools to ensure that employees can share their challenges, self-assess, and find new ways to motivate themselves.
Meritocracy wins: O&T has deemphasized the importance of literal hierarchies. They have provided the ability to speak up when it matters, and people are recognized for their ability to impact their teams. For us, it's truly about working smart. O&T fosters passion and encourages a culture of great behaviors were the excitement is not merely for ‘winners’ but for winning ideas.
I've learned new skills: O&T gives its employees tools to develop their knowledge and skill-sets, and the chance to experience new roles. This helps to rejuvenate us, boost our self-esteem, and succeed both personally and professionally.
- Aparna Kadari, Project Manager, Single-Family Digital Products Operations
I have had a terrific experience working in O&T at Fannie Mae, primarily due to the following:
Impactful mentorships: Throughout my time at Fannie Mae, I have had many mentors who have helped me to grow as a technologist through direct teaching and encouragement. Through their guidance, I have learned a tremendous amount, and they have helped me to access countless amazing opportunities. Because of my mentors, I know that I have a trusted network of supporters at Fannie Mae that I can go to for assistance.
My opinion matters: There has never been an instance where I felt that I couldn’t voice my opinion or that my voice wasn’t being heard. I have numerous peers and leaders who consistently ask for my input, and really value and acknowledge the ideas that I bring to the table.
Interesting projects: I’ve never been bored by my work, and have been lucky to have access to such a wide breath range of diverse work through the Associate’s Rotational Program. I have had the opportunity to work with interesting topics such as test automation, machine learning, front-end development, and blockchain technology. I also know that if I feel myself stagnating with a certain type of work, I have the flexibility and a network that will support my transition into a new space.
- Tara Tritt, Applications Development Analyst
Solving for diversity and inclusion is a long-term investment, and it requires commitment. It has proven to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career. I truly believe in the power of collaboration and creating an environment in which opportunities are available to everyone.
I have traveled across the country and around the world, and held positions in many industries, which has afforded me the chance to connect with people authentically. I am able to bring that experience to work every single day and use it as a baseline for all of my interactions. This role, and roles like Aparna’s and Tara’s, are examples of the many layered opportunities that are waiting to be uncovered at Fannie Mae. I have been fortunate enough to take advantage of this one, and I am always looking for others who want to join me.
Interested in joining an Operations & Technology team that values diverse perspectives and fosters an inclusive environment? Explore our Operations & Technology opportunities, and join us at the heart of housing.