Patricia Rosas is a Leader in Information Architecture at USAA Financial Services

This article continues the series, “IQ Graduates at Work,” that follows the careers of graduates from the UALR Information Quality Graduate Program.

Patricia Rosas (MSIQ, 2010) is a Lead Information Architect at USAA in San Antonio, Texas.  USAA is a financial services company offering insurance, banking, retirement and advice for the military community and their families.  Patricia joined USAA in 1986, and in 2012, her job changed from an IT Architect to a Lead role in USAA’s newly established  Information Architect job family.  As an Information Architect, she helps facilitate the management of USAA’s information as a reusable corporate asset.  She also recently participated as a data quality instructor, teaching a course on the use of data profiling tools and also a course on “Data Quality: Critical to Meeting USAA’s Mission” to IT practitioners at USAA.  Patricia is also a member of the Information Governance team, which is a business organization that facilitates governance activities to ensure USAA’s information is of high quality and is available to support and improve the business decisions and capabilities.  This team has developed a great working relationship with the business and IT partners across the enterprise.  At the same time, these partners have provided the necessary input to develop data quality plans, assessments, and dashboards necessary to monitor the health of critical core data.  Patricia has two roles on the governance team.  Her primary data quality role on the team is focused on the quality of USAA’s core data and information, but as an Information Architect, she is also responsible for helping to define and manage the core information assets.

The following are excerpts from a recent interview with Patricia about her background and here experience in the UALR IQ Program.

Q: How long have you been with USAA and what were some of your previous roles there?

A: Prior to my engagement with the Information Governance organization, I was in Information Technology for 25 years. I was a software developer, a systems analyst and an IT architect.  It is a great company work for and I love our tag line, “We know what it means to serve”.

Q: Where did you work before USAA?

A: I’ve been with USAA for 25 years, but I did work at a leading San Antonio gas and energy company as a software programmer after I graduated from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas.

Q: What is your undergraduate degree?

A: I grew up in a military family, but have lived in San Antonio for most of my life because my dad retired here.  He retired from the Air Force as a Captain and we did move around a lot when I was a child. We finally settled in San Antonio because my parents had family here, so most of my schooling was here. I did my undergraduate work at St. Mary’s University, graduating with a B.A. degree in Computer Science and Applied Statistics.

Q: How did you find out about the UALR IQ program?

A: I always wanted to return to school for an advanced degree – I just didn’t think it would take me 25 years to do it! But life, work and four kids tend to take priority so it did take a while before I started at UALR.  When I started looking, I was already working in the data quality field at USAA and had taken a deep interest in the impact that data quality can have on an organization.  I was looking into programs here in San Antonio but there is nothing specific to Information or Data Quality.  I was very close to taking a course load for an an MS degree in Information Security here in San Antonio – in fact I had already been accepted at a local university – when I read about the UALR IQ program on the MIT IQ web site.

Q: What was your experience in the UALR program?

A: I went through the entire IQ program as a full time remote student.  Participating in the classes remotely via my computer was never a problem – at least not at my end. There were times that classes were cancelled due to snow or ice in Little Rock but in South Texas, I was fine!  I really enjoyed Dr. Tudoreanu’s Information Visualization class and Dr. Wigand’s Data Protection and Privacy class.  In fact, I work closely with USAA’s Privacy Office and the Privacy Counsel and keep up with the changing environment around data privacy and protection. Also, I have to give a shout out to Dr. Talburt for his work on entity resolution, as this has also been quite helpful to me in the work that I do here at USAA.

Q: How have you applied what you learned in the IQ program in your current position?

A: The most valuable applications of the course work were in three areas: the privacy class, as I mentioned, because the protection and privacy of our members’ data is of utmost importance to us.  The importance and usefulness of the entity resolution class is important to us for the same reason it is important to any company: to ensure that we detect and prevent duplicate records in our databases.  We work closely with our partners in Marketing and IT to develop the right algorithms and implement the rules appropriately to reduce duplication.  The third most important application of the program comes from Dr. Pierce’s course regarding Data Governance and the quality components.  I have been able to apply her techniques to help build our data quality dashboards and also to implement a working governance structure within our organization

Q: Is there anything you want to share about family, classmates, or your mentors?

A: I have a wonderful family; they were very patient with me as I went through the program. I was working full time and going through the program as a full time student so I was pretty busy for a couple of years. But they were great and supportive and understanding and we got through it together.  I also have to say that my team at work was very helpful and supportive as well as I went through the program and we are continuing to grow and develop in the Information Quality/Information Governance discipline.

Q: Do you have any advice or encouragement for current or prospective students?

A: This is such a great program with so much valuable information. If there is anything about information quality that interests you, it is definitely worth doing.  The ability to attend remotely and interact with students in Little Rock as well as with others all over the world – literally – brings so much richness to the program.  I highly recommend it.

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