Irv profile picture

Enterprise Architect–Innovation
Information Technology 

Orange County, CA

How would you describe your job to someone who has no idea what you do?
I manage our Innovation program at Symetra. That means I provide structure to our effort to be leaders in the digital transformation of our industry over the coming years. I help establish and facilitate programs leading to a corporate culture that empowers rapid change.

How did you get into your line of work?
Being an entrepreneur and seeking new ways of doing things has been a lifelong passion. I started my first business while I was in college, and started my own dot-com company and independent consulting firm several years later. It prepared me well, with a broad background in business, computers, innovation, finance and marketing. After spending several years demonstrating these skills at Symetra, I eventually worked my way into this new role that was created just for me.

What skills do you use most in your job?
The ability to present complex ideas in ways that are engaging and easy to understand to a broad audience is absolutely critical. I need to help business people understand technology, and help technologists understand business.

How does your job help Symetra’s customers, your coworkers or the company?
Digital Innovation is largely about creating fantastic user experiences for our customers and distribution partners. We do this by enabling our employees to bring ideas to the table, working with others to refine them, and getting them in front of executives who might be willing to fund them.

What keeps you at Symetra?
I absolutely love what I do, and Symetra empowers me to do it. It’s that simple. Of course, I also get to work from home and be close to my family, but it’s really about doing what I love.

What do Symetra’s Core Values mean to you? How do you apply them to your daily work?
These are really just great values to live by, no matter where you work or what you do. Since our success with Innovation is highly dependent on how well we can engage the employee base, “we win as a team” isn’t just a value, it’s a requirement. Similarly, my focus is to bridge the gap between business and technology, so being a student of the business is absolutely critical. Being dedicated to excellence, doing what’s right, and being swift to serve should all just come naturally once you realize you’re part of a large organization or team—and that your success is based on the success of that entire team.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in your field?
Be passionate—passion breeds success. Learn how to present complex ideas to all audiences. This can take a lot of practice, but it will pay off no matter what you do in life. Learn to listen. Learn how to build support for your ideas.

What would people find most surprising about your job or Symetra?
I think people assume Symetra is just another conservative insurance company. But I see a Symetra that is very different. I see excitement and energy around the concept of innovation. I believe we’re at the tip of a transitional period for Symetra where we explore new products and new product lines. One where we empower our employees to create, build and share their ideas. And one where we have the processes in place to enable individuals, and the company as a whole, to pursue those ideas. It’s exciting to see the company embarking on that journey.

How do you enjoy your time away from work?
I’m married and have four teenagers, so my personal time is largely devoted to family. I’m an avid runner and mountain biker and I love taking part in team relay events like the Mojave Death Race (6-person, 24-hour, multi-sport relay in the Mojave Desert in June). I also practice yoga frequently and enjoy paddle boarding, traveling and drinking a good IPA after a run.

What else would you like people to know about you, your job or Symetra?
I recently went skydiving for the first time, but the impressive thing is that my 18-year-old daughter and 67-year-old mom went with me. We had three generations jumping out of the plane at the same time.

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