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The Women in Information Systems group visits Progressive Insurance

Tuesday, December 5 2017 12:00am

WIS members learn about advancement in technology and corporate culture at Progressive’s headquarters

The College of Business Women in Information Systems (WIS) student group, led by MIS professors Janna Chimeli and Nadège Levallet, recently visited the Progressive Insurance Cleveland campus accompanied by three graduate students from the J. Warren McClure School of Information and Telecommunication Systems (ITS).

Students had the opportunity to interact with various members of Progressive’s leadership team as well as previous Ohio University graduates. During the networking trip, students had the opportunity to visit Progressive’s Innovation Garage, where innovative technologies are developed.

 “I enjoyed visiting the Progressive campus and learning about the organizational culture and what the company is doing to stay relevant in the industry,” said Mary Walsh, WIS President.” IT professionals are currently implementing agile methodologies for project development and implementations. They are also experimenting with new technologies, such as the HoloLens, to add value to Progressive in creative ways.” 

Students also heard from Vida Ziedonis, a senior IT director about various unconscious gender biases found in organizations. The conversation began by acknowledging gender biases in job description write-ups, which sparked a thoughtful discussion around women in technology-related fields.

“The conversation with the IT director provided us with a great opportunity to deeply think and discuss both our own and others’ judgment biases, in addition to positive mechanisms that can be utilized to counterbalance them,” said Janna Chimeli, instructor of MIS and WIS’ co-advisor.

Pawan Divakarla, Progressive’s Data Business Leader, also discussed ways that Progressive Insurance uses data analytics based on data collected by the proprietary Snapshot device. Data insights are used to improve the customer experience.

“The discussion about Progressive Insurance’s analytics capabilities was a wonderful learning opportunity for WIS and ITS students”, said Nadège Levallet, assistant professor of MIS and WIS’ co-advisor. “We were very fortunate to meet with Pawan, who shared details on how the organization leverages customer data to improve Progressive’s strategic positioning.”

The trip concluded with a tour of Progressive’s corporate facilities, which provided insight into the culture of the company.

“We organized a tour of the Progressive building, which showcases our Corporate Art collection, said OHIO graduate Suzy Steele, IT Systems Engineer Sr, and WIS’ host for the day. “The collection houses over 7,500 different artworks displayed in our campuses with the objective of nurturing an inclusive, thought-provoking culture for our employees.”

The visit was a beneficial learning opportunity for the WIS and ITS students. Both WIS and Progressive hope to continue developing their relationship.

“As an employee of Progressive and alumni of the Management Information Systems program at Ohio University, I was delighted to bring these two groups together for an exciting day talking about Women and Technology, said Steele.  “To see how engaged the WIS group was in each session was valuable to everyone involved and allowed for thoughtful discussions throughout the day.  I’m looking forward to planning future events for students and continuing to build Progressive’s relationship with the WIS group going forward.”

About WIS

Women in Information Systems is an organization dedicated to enhancing women's professional preparation to lead successful careers in the field of information systems through networking, career exploration seminars, and professional development workshops. Learn more about WIS, visit or contact the WIS president at

About Progressive

Progressive provides insurance for personal and commercial autos and trucks, motorcycles, boats, recreational vehicles, and homes. Progressive is the fourth largest auto insurer in the country. For more information, visit