Economic development wins usually come with delayed gratification, often taking years for the creation of promised jobs. Earlier this year, however, when GEICO — yes, the insurance company with the gecko commercials — announced they would create hundreds of new tech jobs at their Greater Indianapolis office, they meant right away.
In just the past 100 days, GEICO has hired and trained more than 100 people for newly created IT jobs at the company’s Carmel, Ind., location on 103rd Street. A quick check of their careers page shows current openings for lead software engineer, IT architect, lead QA engineer, lead software analyst, junior software analyst, sr. .NET software engineer, and multiple other software analyst and engineer positions.
As a whole, GEICO runs a full-stack IT and development shop with 3,000+ associates. As a department of 140 and counting, (about 35 people relocated from the GEICO headquarters in Chevy Chase, Maryland, or satellite locations), the Indianapolis hub is the first of its kind established outside of the Greater Washington, D.C., area or East Coast.
“Never in GEICO’s history have we started a brand new IT department like this outside of our main headquarters,” said Justin Buford, IT manager for the Indianapolis operation. “This was an opportunity to start something new from the ground up, and we are trying a new software delivery model by operating an internal IT consulting operation out of this office.”
One key focus for the team in Indy is completely rewriting one of GEICO’s major software applications and moving it to the cloud. The GEICO IT department as a whole has a strategic partnership with Microsoft, and GEICO is using the Microsoft Azure and .NET offerings for all major software applications.
“Right now, we have two scrum teams working with our headquarters on moving all of our mobile services and functionality to the cloud,” Justin said. “Obviously, with mobile it’s mission critical because mobile is such a dominant engagement channel for our customers. Not only can our internal associates learn quickly and get up to speed regardless of technology, but they understand how things work in a regulated environment, and they’re already part of the GEICO culture — and that goes a long way towards efficiency and effectiveness.”
Justin, an 11-year employee who relocated to Indy from D.C. about four months ago, works closely with IT Hiring Manager Rick Haas, who advanced quickly after starting out in the GEICO payments department 18 years ago, and has been a part of the Indianapolis office from the beginning in 2013. Rick knows the people and culture at GEICO better than anyone, and he says he looks for something different from what he’s seen other corporate recruiters hiring for in IT.
“We don’t hire people to sit in a dark corner and muscle it out,” Rick said. “We want something so much bigger and better for our GEICO associates. This is a unique group of people. Everyone is intrinsically motivated, and there is this camaraderie with strong qualities of wanting to come together as a team.”
Last month, and for the second consecutive year, GEICO was named one of the AnitaB.org 2018 Top Companies for Women Technologists at the annual Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing in Houston, Texas. “It’s about being intentional when it comes to diversity and inclusiveness,” Justin said. GEICO has an Indianapolis-based diversity recruiter and a director of diversity recruiting at the national level as well. And while the company has been deeply involved in diverse community causes and organizations for years, they are redoubling their efforts supporting diversity within the local tech community as their own hiring needs have accelerated.
“All people are really drawn to meritocracies where a company invests in its associates and everyone has an equal chance to advance their career,” Justin said. “The important thing to do is to build upon that and be intentional about hiring people with diverse experiences and backgrounds, which, according to data, benefits the employees as well as the company.”