Alumni Profile: Ben Smith
Ben Smith graduated in 2017 with a degree in Accounting. He also completed a concentration in Business Information Systems (formerly Management Information Systems). Two internships at Unum as an undergrad paved his way for post-graduation employment. Ben has put his BIS education to work and was recently promoted to IT Delivery Manager.
Tell us about your job…
As an IT Delivery Manager, I’m accountable for a software/application development team. Specifically, our team is in the Products IT organization. We focus on delivering new products to the market and enhancing existing products by offering new services or introducing efficiency gains in business processes through automation or standardization. This role is a mix of managing a team of people while also managing projects to stay on track from a timeline and budget perspective.
How long have you worked for Unum, and what roles have you held?
I started working full-time at Unum in June 2017. Before that, I was an IT intern for them for the previous two summers. I worked on Salesforce development teams in slightly different roles.
During my first summer, I assisted the program manager in driving the Scrum Agile methodology that we began using and identifying meaningful metrics that would help teams continuously improve. In my second summer, I was in a Test Engineer role. I worked to ensure the quality of coding/configuration changes being made to Unum’s instance of Salesforce. Unum offered me a full-time position at the end of my second summer. I was fortunate to have my job lined up before my senior year began!
From June of 2017 until my recent promotion, I was a Business Analyst. This is a role within the software/application development team responsible for understanding, documenting, and communicating system and process change requests from our business partners, then translating that into actionable and small bodies of work for our Software Engineers and Test Engineers to complete. The Business Analyst often works ahead of the team to prepare requirements documentation before development work begins. The role is also sometimes expected to design future initiatives, lead the team along the project plan, or complete development work.
Why did you decide to attend the University of Maine?
To be honest, UMaine was my safety school and ended up being the only school I could afford. Given my high-flying expectations as a senior in high school, this was a little disappointing at the time, but I couldn’t be happier with how things ended up for me. I became quickly impressed with what UMaine and MBS has to offer and learned that I could get as much out of the experience as I was willing to work for.
Why did you decide to study business?
Studying business was a natural fit for me on several levels. I’ve always had a mind for numbers and a passion for developing relationships with others and serving people in a meaningful way. I’m happy that I can work for a company such as Unum that is making our world a better place!
What was it about the Business Information Systems concentration that interested you?
I took an introductory course with Professor Matt Graham. What piqued my interest was the huge opportunity laid out in our future to enable business growth through ever-evolving technology. The frequency and impact of technology changes pose significant challenges for businesses, and the best part is that there’s rarely one “correct” answer. The BIS concentration at the Maine Business School seemed like a great fit for me. I was excited to learn more about current and future technology trends and how they can be applied to businesses.
What were your favorite classes at MBS?
Professor Graham almost always taught my favorite classes, especially the more advanced courses. I appreciated how he was able to engage the classroom in meaningful conversation while keeping things light and fun. He also did an excellent job of taking concepts that are often intangible and make them relevant to the classroom. I was able to apply many of the things Dr. Graham taught me to my internship roles and my time as a Business Analyst.
Did you feel your education set you up for success in your job?
I really appreciated how many of my professors at the MBS challenged me to think for myself. I quickly learned that the more I put into my learning development, the more I got out of it. While the knowledge I gained was very important and relevant to my career, those core “life lessons” have far more meaning. No matter what career you may find yourself in, I firmly believe that adopting the mindset of investing in yourself – not just with time and money, but with a passion for always getting better. That’s been the most transferable learning from my time at the MBS to my career today.
What do you like most about your career?
There are two things I enjoy most about my career in IT so far. First off, it’s exciting to me that most of the challenges we’re asked to solve have many “correct” answers. I get to use my creative skills and think strategically. If you’re not thinking about your changes from a longer-term perspective or without considering all of the unexpected impacts there might be, you’re setting yourself up to fail. It sounds daunting, and often is, but tackling meaty challenges energizes me and keeps me engaged!
The second and more important thing I enjoy about my career has been the diverse, bright, and kind people I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Not only are the challenges we face complex, but they can rarely be solved by one mind. It takes different knowledge bases, diverse and unique perspectives, and a willingness to own these challenges together as one. Through successes and failures, I’ve built meaningful and strong relationships that I’ll never take for granted.
What do you like most about working for Unum?
Unum, an industry-leading employee benefits company, has a core mission of helping employees through the highs and lows of their lives. This could be something joyful like welcoming a baby into the family, to something routine like getting your teeth cleaned, or something more somber like being diagnosed with a serious illness. Through our work in IT, we have the opportunity to make our processes more efficient, introduce new products, or enhance existing ones to protect people in their time of need. This ultimately helps our business as a whole cover more people for when they need us most and do it in a way that delights the customer.
Class of 2017