Aviva: Sr. Systems Analyst

Aviva Canada is looking for a Technical Lead / Sr.  Systems Analyst:

This role will lead technical/software development teams in the analysis, design, development and deployment of business critical applications. The individual will provide effective function as “Subject Matter Expert” in the development of our core insurance business systems, using comprehensive processes and methodologies to achieve quality delivery. In addition, the position will provide in-house technical support, develop and maintain appropriate processes and procedures for quality assurance, system stability, control of change, and risk mitigation. 

  • Lead technical teams of 5 to 15 resources – train, retain and supervise full-time and/or contract software developers and other technical staff as necessary 
  • Provide leadership and direction to ensure software developers are working effectively and successfully at completing tasks 
  • Prepare project plans, monitor project progress, and report status to stakeholders and management 
  • Maintain build and release plans for new functionality and enhancements 
  • Plan work, assign resources, identify issues and resolve conflicts 
  • Work with Project Managers, Business Analysts, Solutions Architects and others to translate business ideas and functional requirements into high-level design, low-level design and technical requirements for development projects including middleware integrations 
  • Introduce effective software development practices and methodologies aimed at controlling costs and delivering quality solutions on a timely basis while building a strong well-motivated development team 
  • Represent development teams at partner and management meetings
  • Work with subcontractors and business partners to ensure completion of agreed activities 
  • Remain abreast of relevant technology developments 

The Good
It’s a fairly senior position at a pretty big insurance company ($10B Market Cap, 60k employees, see Google Finance).  Their stock price has been declining slowly over the past two years, although in recent months that’s just about everyone, and they don’t seem to have been hit as badly by the ‘credit crisis’ as some.  The description of the role sounds fairly reasonable (although it sounds like a more traditional role than an agile environment).

The Bad
Although I’ve seen this elsewhere, it’s a little frustrating when a company delivers a bullet-point job description without formatting.  This probably says something about the formatting capabilities of their job-posting system, but when coupled with a typo in a bolded phrase, it’s a bad start.  The Craigslist version is slightly easier on the eyes.  And then the Contact Us page doesn’t list the Scarborough office and has a broken header, so the bad continues.

The technology list is ridiculous, particularly since it’s under the must-have skills.  There’s almost no-one they’re going to see who will have any reasonable level of experience with all of:

Java (J2EE, Servlet, JSF, JSP,JDBC, XML), Java Design Pattern, Web services, Object-oriented design, UML, Microsoft .NET, C, C++, XML, XSLT, X Path, COM+, ODBC, WSDL, WSAD, ECLIPSE, IDE, SQL Query Analyzer, Tomcat 5.0, Jboss Server, IIS web server, UDDI, SOAP, ADO MD, Solaris, Windows & Linux, MS Project, Word, Excel, Visio, SQL in MS SQL server & Postgres SQL, Cobol, Assembler, Supra, DB2, VSAM, JCL, SCRIPT, Z/OS, MQ, CICS.

More than half of that probably belongs in the nice-to-have skill list, but which half?

What’s Missing?
What would you be working on?  What systems does Aviva develop internally?  Is the team you’d be leading already in place, or one that you’d be building?  What’s the compensation?  How much do they use contractors?  Are they really big consumers of RUP, or is that simply an example of a software-development methodology?  What technologies do you really need to know?   Where do you fit into the larger organization?

Your mileage may vary when it comes to working in Scarborough, although their location isn’t far from Kennedy station and I’m told they run a shuttle, so if you’re in the east end and/or near the Bloor/Danforth line it’s not totally insane.  Alternately if you’re coming from the Northeast by car, you’ll miss the core traffic.  But for most of the rest of you, it’s probably too far east to be in serious consideration.   Given how far out they are, there’s a reasonable amount of things around head over to Warden, and you’ll find a collection of malls and restaurants, and they have a Mandarin restaurant in the building, which could be bad for your waistline.

Your mileage may also vary when it comes to the glimpses you get of their process.  There’s a mention of RUP, a number of named roles (Project Managers, Business Analysts, Solutions Architects).  Although contracting makes an appearance several times, it’s not clear from the posting how often Aviva uses contractors; some companies put this kind of language in for occasional contractor use, whereas others make heavy use of contractors and use similar language.

In Summary
If the location and technology list doesn’t throw you, it’s a fairly senior role at a large insurance company and could be worth inquiry.


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