Steven Palasek

Steven Palasek

Second Vice President, Engineering


Travelers

Milestones

My road in life took a while to figure out.
Growing up I was shy, and didn't feel comfortable in social settings. I spent most of my time studying. With the benefit of hindsight, I now know that gave me the work ethic I rely on today.
Late in high school, I grew ... a LOT. Almost 8 inches in my senior year. Suddenly, I stood out in a crowd, but was still that same quiet, shy kid in my own head. I needed to get over my insecurities.
I went to college as a History major, primarily because I always found it to be an interesting subject. After a year, though, I started to wonder what type of career that major could yield.
Luckily, my older sister was a senior at UConn when I was a freshman. She was graduating with a MIS degree, and had all sorts of job offers coming her way. I thought ... hey, why not try that?
I switched majors to MIS, and finished college strongly. I applied for a job at Travelers in their IT Leadership Development Program (ITLDP), but wasn't selected my first time.
After working at a smaller company as an IT "generalist" for a year, I reapplied at Travelers and was accepted into the ITLDP. That year of work experience and personal growth was what I needed.
Upon joining, I went through different rotational assignments over the course of 4 years, learning new technologies, meeting new people and figuring out my place in this large corporation.
Since graduating from ITLDP in 2006, I have been fortunate to see my career and responsibilities grow and evolve, leading me to the position of leadership and influence that I have today.
Keep following my journey

Education

High School
Southington High School
Bachelor
Management Information Systems, General
University of Connecticut

Career

Second Vice President, Engineering

I lead a team that helps deliver new and strategic IT services for our internal customers and stakeholders

Career Roadmap

Roadmap
My work combines:
My work combines:
Technology
Engineering
Learning / Being Challenged

Day to Day

My personal responsibilities center on engaging with our customers and key stakeholders, as well as our senior management team, to ensure that we are delivering the services and solutions that they need. In parallel with that routine interaction, I focus on financial details, staffing assignments, and developing and creating execution plans for our technical roadmaps and strategies. Lastly, but just as important, is time I spend coaching and mentoring folks, helping them manage their own paths.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

Soft skills are key: The ability to listen and to communicate different levels of detail to different audiences. To be unafraid of having a difficult conversation, whether with a customer who is unhappy or an employee whose performance is suffering. To exhibit empathy, humility and self-awareness. Understanding and accepting that you are not perfect, and to actively seek out and attack opportunities to improve, both personally and professionally. Above all: Find a work-life balance.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for everyone

Find and attend career fairs. Seek out speakers or mentors who are willing to share time and perspective with you. Read/watch tutorials that apply to the topics and industries that interest you. Don't limit yourself to a specific role, field or company. Don't start with a sense of entitlement ... make your own path with the opportunities given to you, and when they aren't given to you, go out and find them. Interview often, and with preparation ... the practice helps.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:

undergrad
Bachelor
Management Information Systems, General

Hurdles

The Noise I Shed

From Myself:

"That my technical expertise needed to be as deep as the folks who worked for me. That I wasn't qualified to manage or lead the team unless I understood the technology as well as they did."

Challenges I Overcame

Self esteem