Meet Ben Kazan, Wentworth Computer Science 11’ Alumnus and current Director of Information Systems and Staff at John Hancock Investments.
Tell us about your current role: I manage and lead an agile team which directly supports and delivers technology for John Hancock Investments. We largely specialize in data warehousing solutions but also support a variety of business applications that are crucial to our business function. The team I manage is comprised of analysts, developers, technical experts, and scrum masters – all to deliver a cohesive product to our end users.
Tell us a bit about your Co-op as a Wentworth student: I was a Support Analyst for Harvard University IT (HUIT). I supported the students and faculty in a variety of ways including, maintaining the helpdesk inbound call center, supporting walk up desktop issues at the computer clinic, and managing several computer labs.
What did you learn from during co-op that you still use today? The communication skills and ability to triage/prioritize issues are fundamental skills I learned during my co-op that I use each and every day. Communication skills by phone, email, and in person were all areas I improved on while with HUIT and those soft skills have gone a long way in furthering my career. The other skill I use every day is to triage and prioritize issues that may arise. This level of quick problem solving and understanding how systems and processes work together is a skill that is hard to learn, its one of those things you learn by trial and error and my co-op experience gave me many opportunities to build this skill and understand how to keep calm when there are multiple priorities competing for your attention.
How has your career progressed since you left Wentworth? I started at John Hancock with an entry level position as an operations analyst and over time I explored different career paths at John Hancock including: release management, data modeling, production support, project management, system management, and ultimately the director of both staff and systems. I’ve learned that the finance industry is one that is constantly evolving. Through that change I’ve been fortunate to get different opportunities that have ultimately shaped my view of the John Hancock organization and allow me to understand the various touch points and key contacts across the organization that can help move things along. At an organization the size of John Hancock, this is a critical skill and the only way to really get all these skills is to try out different roles. John Hancock offers rotational programs to new hire and recent college graduates, which allow you to explore different parts of the organization in 3, 1 year intervals – before settling into a full-time and long-term role.
What advice do you have for students looking for co-ops and soon to be graduates seeking full-time opportunities? Try new things, don’t be afraid to fail, understand what makes you stand out – and own what you do! Ownership and follow through are skills that will always show your true value, taking on new challenges and owning those as you go is the best way to grow and succeed at any organization. Aside from this, I recommend finding people within your organization and outside that you can connect with for guidance and mentor-ship. As your career unfolds having people who truly understand what your ‘differentiator’ is, and who will speak up for you and understand what you bring to the table that makes you unique is an extremely important part of career growth.
Want to learn more about what it’s like to work at John Hancock? Join members of their Software Development Program on June 13th for an Info Session from 5PM -7PM in Beatty 401. Register on WITWorks and bring your questions about working as a software developer, what it’s like to work for John Hancock, and how to apply for their Software Development Program. Info Session will include a brief presentation, Q&A time, networking, PLUS pizza and beverages.