Insurance & Technology


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November 2014 7 S usan Courtney jumped into the insurance industry when she started at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (Omaha, Neb.; 327,296 contracts) about eight years ago. Met with a fragmented architecture and disorderly technology strategy, she immediately began to ignite changes in how employees work and communicate. "When I arrived at Blue Cross, we were not terribly mature in our technical practices or our technology," explains the health insurer's senior VP and CIO. "In an evolutionary way, we added a lot more discipline to our thought processes." Agile methodology became the catalyst for collaborative change at Nebraska Blue dur- ing an endeavor to retire its legacy reporting system. The project was given a yearlong time frame, but progress suffered because of poor communication, misunderstood requirements, and slow speed of delivery. Negative feelings and lagging interactions between the business and IT units also interfered with progress. When the transformation was one-third complete, Courtney was genuinely unsure whether the team would meet its deadline, she admits. Agile Adoption Eager to change the approach, she attended an Agile community meeting and learned about the details behind the strategy, which she soon introduced to her team. "I had it in my head that you couldn't apply [Agile] to very large projects, couldn't apply it in Previous Table of Contents Next Previous Table of Contents Next Elite 8 2014 Susan Courtney, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska An Agile Path To Success From the US Navy to Ford, senior VP and CIO Susan Courtney has taken lessons from her unique career path to transform IT, culture, and collaboration at Nebraska Blue. By Kelly Sheridan @kellysheridan22 Susan Courtney Senior VP of technology and operations and CIO, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska Professional history: Eight years at BCBS Ne- braska; also held manage- rial and executive positions at Ford Motor Co., Hormel Foods, and First Data Resources. Education: University of Minnesota, BS in computer science Off the job: Courtney is a veteran of the US Navy, where she served as a naval flight officer for six years. She also loves to golf and travel with her husband, son, and twin daughters. "I hate the statistic that says somewhere around 80% of people hate their jobs or hate driving to work in the morning. I really detest that and I want to do anything I can to make that a lower number."

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