Tara Long knows a thing or two about MassMutual. Since starting at the company more than seventeen years ago as an SAP authorizations specialist, Long has touched on nearly every aspect of the business: financial risk reporting, IT controls and compliance, information risk and privacy management, and worksite voluntary benefits, to name a few. Today, as head of Corporate and Institutional Solutions Technology, Long leverages her wide-ranging knowledge of the insurance giant to produce not only consistently excellent results but also a consistently excellent environment for everyone at the company.
Leaning into Discomfort
A psychology major at Mount Holyoke College, Long didn’t always plan on working in the IT space. But being open-minded to learning new things is a part of who she is, Long says, and the transition to function as an IT auditor at PricewaterhouseCoopers meant a whole new horizon of learning opportunities. “It was an opportunity to learn about many different companies, not just IT, and auditing the various companies’ systems environments,” Long explains. “And then I realized that IT was something I truly enjoyed.”
But while Long’s early career was focused on IT audit, she quickly progressed into roles with a more diverse array of responsibilities. She began focusing on information security, and later expanded to leadership roles within risk management—but throughout it all, Long had a very specific goal in mind. “I am inherently curious and wanted to learn more about the business,” she says. “I’ve had so many different experiences and taken on so many different roles, and that’s really helped me grow and broadened my skill set and leadership.”
That is why her current position is such a great fit, Long notes. It is fast moving, changing all the time, and focuses on the growth and development of the business. It draws upon her IT expertise and innovation to ensure that the right technologies and solutions are in place to support the business.
Not in It Alone
At MassMutual, Long continues to push herself to grow and learn. “I have always felt supported at MassMutual in my endeavors to try new things and learn new skills,” Long says. “And because the company is so large, there are many different avenues to broaden your skill set and expand your career.”
But there’s one thing, Long says, that’s even more important to her than the learning opportunities available at the company. “It’s the people,” Long says simply. “MassMutual is its people—whether it’s the people in leadership that I report to, my amazing business partners, or the people on my team, I always feel energized and excited to come to work here. I feel privileged to work with these people and with the most wonderful team.”
As a leader, Long prioritizes the autonomy, curiosity, innovation, and collaboration of her team in order to ensure that together they deliver on the high-level results promised by MassMutual’s purpose: to help people secure their future and protect the ones they love. “The team, in my mind, is greater than the sum of its parts,” Long says. “I’m a firm believer in the idea that no one individual can consistently deliver excellent results while working alone.”
MassMutual’s Institutional Solutions business comprises a range of solutions aimed at corporate and institutional financial and risk management needs, including institutional insurance, defined benefit pensions, pension risk transfer, investments for defined contribution plans, and funding agreements. And on the corporate side, Long’s technology team supports functions like HR, finance, investment management, law and compliance functions, among others.
Tara Long is not by any means alone in her passion for diversity and inclusion work: the company as a whole has made D&I a strategic goal, Long notes, and has been recognized accordingly. In 2019, the company was not only honored by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation as a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality but was also included in the Diversity Best Practices Inclusion Index and Disability Equality Index.
Her team focuses on working to meet the organization’s current and future needs related to those areas. “We are in growth mode, so on the technology side we have to make sure we are meeting the demands of the business—or even exceeding their expectations—in terms of technology delivery and service,” she explains. “But the company is more than 165 years old, so there are many legacy systems in place here: we have to think about how we can modernize these systems, how to create scale, become more digital, and how to automate and streamline.”
The Culture of Excellence
Long is incredibly proud of her team and the excellent results they have delivered for the business, she says. But as a leader, she feels a responsibility to create a “fun, motivating, inclusive, diverse culture” to help support her team and drive consistent results. “A person will always be more successful in anything they do when they are able to keep their passions at the forefront and focus on excellence in everything they do,” she points out.
Long also looks to boost creativity, positivity, and productivity through her work on diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives. She most recently took on the role of Vice Chair of the Women’s Leadership Business Resource Group (BRG) at MassMutual. “D&I is really critical to the success of the business,” Long asserts. “But it’s not just diversity and inclusion from the traditional perspective—it’s about diversity of thought and perspectives and creating an inclusive environment where all of those voices can be heard and valued so that, at the end of the day, the most optimal outcomes can be achieved.”
And whether it’s D&I initiatives, company culture, Institutional Solutions, or corporate programs, both Long and MassMutual are in it for the long haul. “We think in terms of decades here, not just quarters,” Long emphasizes. “That’s one of the reasons why we are a leader within our industry.”
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