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WITI Women | Irene Dec

WITI Women Survey Questions and Responses:

1. What was your first job in technology?
I started my career in technology at Prudential as a COBOL programmer. However, my first job was as an educator. I taught mathematics at both high school and college levels.

2. Who has been your most significant mentor? Why?
Grace Murray Hopper is a person that I very much admire. Hopper made significant contributions to the field of computer programming: she conceptualized the notion of code libraries, developed the first compiler, and was instrumental in developing COBOL. But besides her influence in the world of technology, Hopper was absolutely committed to young people. She often remarked that youth are our future, and considered that her most important job was educating young people.

Albert Einstein is also someone that I respect highly. He once said, "In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." This is an excellent description of how Prudential managed the Year 2000 project. We not only addressed being "Y2K ready," but also looked long-term for implementing processes and obtaining strategic opportunities.

3. What has been your greatest challenge and what strategies did you use to overcome obstacles?
My greatest challenge was managing the company-wide Year 2000 project for Prudential. Year 2000 was the largest and most challenging project that Information Technology has ever faced.

Year 2000 remediation presented many challenges that had to be addressed. When the project was begun at Prudential with strong executive support, I set up a central program office to manage the project across Prudential's several lines of business in order to ensure a consistent approach and methodology. One of the early challenges was getting an accurate profile of the application, infrastructure, and business partner inventories. Processes were put in place to gather this information, assess Year 2000 readiness, implement project plans, and track progress against plan through the use of rigorous metrics. Contingency plans had to be identified, coordinated, and prepared in case systems experienced Year 2000 problems. A Year 2000 Global Control Center was established within Prudential's existing Operations and Control Center to serve as the single point of contact for reporting all Year 2000 problems and driving them to resolution. Tight project management, timely resolution of problems, and rigorous metrics to track progress against plan helped Prudential's Year 2000 program to achieve its goals.

Irene Dec answers these questions:
1. What was your first job in technology?
2. Who has been your most significant mentor? Why?
3. What has been your greatest challenge and what strategies did you use to overcome obstacles?
4. Who has been the most influential person in your life? Why?
5. What lessons have you learned that would be valuable to women beginning their careers in technology?
6. What new technology do you believe will have the most positive impact on the world in the next 20 years? The most negative impact?

On the lighter side:
1. If you could have dinner with any 2 people (living or not), who would they be?
2. What was the last book you read? What books do you love to recommend?
3. If you were to choose a different profession, what would it be?
4. What is your definition of success?

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