I really believe people in this
business are the most important
asset. Hardware and software
are important, but people
is where you win the game.
GreG scHwartz, CIO, USAA
ees, including 2,135 in IT, also received a whopping 18.4% perfor-
mance bonus, the second highest in the company’s history. The
highest bonus — 18.8% — was paid out in 2010, when USAA also
took the top spot on the Best Places to Work in IT list.
Yet even more exceptional than the benefits, according to
Lewis and other IT staffers, is the company’s overall work envi-
ronment, which emphasizes innovation, collaboration and, above
all else, service.
USAA’s customer base comprises 8 million U.S. military
members, veterans and their families around the world. And it’s
not at all unusual for members of USAA’s workforce to express
great zeal for serving this particular customer segment.
“My No. 1 favorite thing about working at USAA is being on a
team that has a single goal,” says Emily Bubela, a senior research
engineer and self-described military brat, who joined the company
eight years ago, right out of college. Growing up in a military family,
the first check Bubela ever wrote was on a USAA account, and she
has had car insurance with the company since she was a teenager.
“USAA has been in my DNA for a long time,” she quips. Now,
working at the company, “there’s never a question about every-
body’s priorities. It’s always the same. What’s best for the member
is the guiding principle,” she says.
“We have a strong and noble mission, and we believe in it,”
says Jackie Head, executive director of database and storage man-
agement. Every month, one of the company’s military members
is profiled in a short video. “It gives us a sense of the people we
serve,” Head says. “It’s that emotional side that keeps you very
much in sync with who your customers are.”
There’s also an abundance of opportunities to learn about and
develop expertise with the latest technologies, through company-
paid outside training and certification programs or through
USAA’s Open Innovation Lab, which allows employees to design
and test ideas before moving them to full production. Addition-
ally, a new Member Service Representative Lab provides an
isolated production environment where new ideas can be tested
in a live but controlled environment. And last year, the company
launched a social media networking environment known as
ICE, where employees can share their ideas about products or
business-process improvements, plus comment and vote on other
“What we try to do is create a work environment where our
people can really innovate and they can be creative and help
us solve business problems,” says CIO Greg Schwartz. “I really
believe people in this business are the most important asset.
Hardware and software are important, but people is where you
win the game.” u
100 Best Places to Work in IT
GIta woosley has never worked anywhere other than Usaa, and she doesn’t foresee that changing anytime soon. as long as op- portunities keep coming her way, she has no intention of leaving.
“I’ve been given opportunities based on my perfor-
“I love what I do, and I don’t see myself going any-
where else,” says the 27-year-old user interface analyst.
woosley was hired right out of college, starting as a
mainframe programmer. From there, she moved to a
technology vendor management role and then into her
mance,” she says. Most of what she knows about user
interfaces, for example, she learned on the job.
“It was sink or swim, and it was a real risk, but the im-
portant thing is, I was given an opportunity,” she says.
woosley compares her broad range of experiences at
Usaa to those a consultant might accrue across various
assignments. “I’ve worked with a bank, in insurance,
with a dot-com, and with corporate applications, mobile
and iPhones,” she notes.
Perhaps the best indicator of just how much woosley
likes working at Usaa is that she helped her husband, an
electrical engineer, get a job at the company.
“I gave his résumé to our Hr person, and he was hired
within two weeks,” she says.
as for the range of generous benefits Usaa offers, her
absolute favorite is access to three fitness centers. “I am
a workout junkie. I love running, and I love boot camp,”
she says. “If I ever wanted to consider being employed
elsewhere, finding the same benefits would be the biggest hindrance.”
— JUlIa KInG