Exec VP Susan Leatherwood: essentially the division's CIO.Exec VP Susan Leatherwood: essentially the division's CIO.Susan Leatherwood
recently moved up to a new job as executive VP of technology for Transamerica Retirement Management
, which is a division of Transamerica Capital, Inc.Transamerica
is a wholesale broker/dealer and marketing agency for fixed and variable annuities and life insurance products.Division HQ is in Cedar Rapids, IA. Leatherwood will essentially be the division's CIO, responsible for all technology, including strategic direction, project efforts, support of strategic goals and more.
Senior enterprise architectUntil very recently, Leatherwood was senior enterprise architect (EA) in the company's IT group.
The mission of the EA
team is to determine IT changes and additions that will help the company's many divisions do business in the most fiscally responsible way."We looked at trends in technology and tried to assess how they would impact the company environment," Leatherwood
was responsible for the Transamerica Retirement Services division, which led to a smooth transition to her
new position as executive VP.She was also responsible for the division that manages internal investments.She
met quarterly with the CIOs of both divisions and worked to integrate their perspectives with the overall enterprise program.She
was in contact with her
divisions daily, and also working closely with other team members."This work is good for the team, good for the divisions and good for the overall company," she
Addressing today's needsIn her
new role as EVP, one of Leatherwood's important initiatives involves pulling information from multiple divisions for use in the retirement efforts.
The idea is to provide information to a client or an advisor regardless of which products the client currently owns."It doesn't matter which products you hold, you'll get that holistic view," Leatherwood
careerLeatherwood began as a Cobol programmer with CyCare Systems (now McKesson) in her junior year at the University of Dubuque (Dubuque, IA).She
was working after school at a pizza restaurant, and CyCare's CIO was one of her
was majoring in programming, he
to interview with CyCare
.She started as a computer room operator and later moved to junior programmer.She
loved the hands-on opportunity and continued full-time for another two years after graduating in 1985.Then she moved to Omaha, NE, a bigger city, where she worked for Majors Marketing Research (now Nielsen) and Mutual of Omaha.
On to SchumakerIn 1989 she
married a Navy man, which meant a move to the east coast."There are very few ships in the Midwest," she
notes with a smile.She found a job as senior programmer/analyst with F. Schumaker & Co (New York, NY), the manufacturer and distributor of Schumacher, Waverly and Village fabrics and wall coverings.Progressing to manager of production support, Leatherwood supported a distributed IT environment, with warehouses in Chicago, Los Angeles and South Carolina.
Still hands-on, she
worked on a warehouse shipping system that updated order entry in real time."This was cutting-edge technology back then," she
notes.She also became a serious student of leadership.
When people came to her
with a question, her
initial response would be to ask if they'd read the manual."In fact, they made a sign for me that said 'RTM' because I encouraged them to grow their own skills first, and then look for help."
It can't be just about moneyIn 1996 Leatherwood
left Schumaker to try high-paying consulting work.
That's cutting edge," Leatherwood
Thinking strategicallyDuring her term at Vanguard, Leatherwood began to research enterprise architecture in greater detail, especially as it related to her job.
As it happens, this new awareness was what led her
delved into how other companies defined and structured their organizations, she
noticed a listing for an enterprise architecture job in the Midwest.
Going homeAfter that, "It happened really, really fast," she
The relocation has been good all around, Leatherwood
husband, a tech writer, is serving as an associate pastor of their new church.Their two sons love being closer to Grandma and Grandpa.Her
brother's family is also local.Leatherwood
is really enjoying the cultural change.The Midwestern culture, and specifically the company culture, value family time.And that, she
says, enables her
to be much more productive in the office.She's
found that you can go home again, and be even more successful than you thought you'd be.It's an extremely gratifying realization.