It takes a community.
In celebration of our 10-year anniversary, we are highlighting some of our best people, partners, and instructors. Over the next few weeks, you’ll have the opportunity to be inspired by some incredible stories that have driven the success of our enterprise business.
Keep reading to meet Tara Fosbre, who works as a technology leader at Guardian Life Insurance — one of our incredible clients. Over the past two years, Tara has partnered with us to deliver Code for Good at her organization to diversify technical teams and prepare more talent for the future of work.
GA: Where are you located, and what is your role at Guardian?
Tara Fosbre: I’m currently based in our New Jersey office, but I am still working from home because of COVID-19.
I have been a technology leader for over 25 years, building customer-facing solutions, and have always had a passion for early career talent and championing women in technology. I’ve been at Guardian for almost eight years, and for the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to pivot and focus solely on building our tech talent pipeline.
My job is identifying opportunities and building out robust development programs. This is my sweet spot, and I think my leadership background gives me an edge to understand what is needed to ensure that we’re shaping our pipeline for the future.
I’m really excited to be doing this work because it’s super important, especially as we move into a real digital age, making sure that our workforce is ready to go there as well.
GA: How do you define the talent pipeline of the future?
Tara Fosbre: I think digital is critical so having a digital mindset, having digital dexterity, and thinking about things in a “let’s work smarter, not harder” manner is important.
Not being afraid of technology and thinking about how to leverage technology for a solution first. Really shifting cultures and getting people to think differently about the work that they’re doing — whether that comes in the form of automation or optimization, it doesn’t matter. We have to stop doing manual work because it impacts our customers.
Then we have to shift to a culture that’s open to innovating, collaborating, and being disruptive; a culture that’s unafraid to try things because that’s how we’re going to start to leapfrog.
GA: Mindset and culture play a huge part in digital transformation, but those can be incredibly hard to shift. How are you approaching these changes at Guardian?
Tara Fosbre: It’s ongoing. I’m currently building out a proposal for shaping our talent in a digital-dexterous way. When we think about digital dexterity, it’s human beliefs, mindsets, and behaviors that accelerate business transformation; it’s the employees’ ability to adapt and adopt existing emerging technologies to produce better results.
This is just the beginning. I don’t have all the answers, but Code for Good fits squarely within my plans because it’s not going away. We need developers and technologists, and I think it’s important that we pull them from wherever we can get them because there’s enormous value in diversity of thought.
GA: You’ve been a part of Code for Good for two years. Why did you decide to pursue Code for Good, and why did you choose GA as a partner?
Tara Fosbre: General Assembly has been a partner of Guardian for some time, and this program sort of fell in my lap. I latched on because it fits into my passions for championing technology and building a diverse talent pipeline.
What really intrigued me about Code for Good was that the cohorts are blended with other companies, which adds invaluable perspective for the students. It’s not just learning the day-to-day; they’re also building a network, collaborating with folks they don’t know, and they’re getting through something together.
GA: Can you tell us about some of the participants that you’ve put into this program?
Tara Fosbre: For both cohorts, we pulled from our customer service operations teams. These are people who are front-lining with customers and have very strong business and system knowledge but zero tech knowledge.
I am interested in possibly opening it up at the enterprise level because we’ve had amazing people interested in the program. I think the fact that we’ve offered it twice now — resulting in close to 100 people applying — which speaks volumes about our organization’s willingness and desire to learn.
As part of the application process, I instituted something totally new at Guardian, where the application review was blinded. We removed all the biases from the process, which leveled the playing field for everyone involved.
GA: What impact has Code for Good had on your business?
Tara Fosbre: One really amazing thing about Code for Good — and tapping into the operations team and bringing them onto the technology team — has been the partnership. Most tech teams are lower on business acumen but high on tech acumen, so these students coming in high on business and lower on tech have a real advantage.
What we’re seeing is the teams are learning from each other. The tech teams are getting strong on business knowledge while the operations folks — who went through the program — are getting stronger on tech. There are a lot of “aha!” moments that we’ve seen coming out of this.
GA: What has been your experience working with GA?
Tara Fosbre: We’re in our second Code for Good class, and my experience has been great. I’m really impressed with the teaching support and monitoring of students. GA and I meet weekly, and I meet with the students weekly.
It’s really important to coach these folks along with teaching them because it’s a scary thing to start a whole new career. They’ve essentially stopped their old jobs, and a lot of them have been out of the school mindset for a long time, and now they’re being thrown into it. I’ve been impressed with how the instructors are on top of the program and the individual needs of the student. I think that’s critical, and I think that’s why it’s been successful.
Working with GA has been amazing. I’ve tried other programs where it’s a little bit of self-study with different blends of modalities, but without having very knowledgeable and in-tune instructors, it just won’t work.
GA: What excites you about the future of work?
Tara Fosbre: Technology is ever-changing and gives us opportunities to continuously learn something new, continue innovating, and finding ways to work smarter, not harder. These are exciting times.
I know people are daunted by the words automation and optimization, etc., and I think they have it all wrong. This is about figuring out how to give a machine the boring things that you’re doing and sink your teeth into the cool new things that are coming. I think that’s part of that whole digital mindset shift that we have to go through.
Stay tuned for more incredible stories from our team and partners in the coming weeks. Want to learn more about how GA can make a difference in your business today? Get in touch.