First Tennessee's hardware environment is based on IBM mainframes and Sun Solaris platforms. Languages used include C, C++, Visual Basic and Java, as well as COBOL II and Assembler. Additional software on the mainframe includes CICS, DB2, Focus, Easytrieve, VSAM, and Fileaid. In addition, the bank uses software ranging from Hogan and Bravo to ARGO, Oracle, ASP, Java Server Pages, EJBs, COM, DCOM, Linux, and IIS.

Among its online banking initiatives, First Tennessee recently allied with, a web-based marketplace for independent businesses and banks. Designed to reduce procurement costs by making the economies of large-scale transactions available to small businesses in pooled purchases, also streamlines the procurement process. First Tennessee was named one of Forbes' Best of the Web banking sites, noted for its easy user interface and sixteen months of transaction history. The company uses speech recognition on its corporate telephone system so that callers can say the name of the person they want to speak with and be directed to that person's phone or request the balance in their account or a record of their most recent transactions.

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First Tennessee's headquarters are in a moderate size office building in downtown Memphis. Its Irving, Texas location is in a suburban campus setting outside of Dallas. Employees work in cubicles.

Vacation starts at two weeks after one year and increases to three weeks after five years and four weeks after fifteen years. Medical, dental, short- and long-term disability, and life insurance options are available. First Tennessee provides life insurance and, after one year, matches half of an employee's contribution to their 401(k) plan. Employees are eligible for discounts on installment and mortgage loans. All employees are eligible for stock options. Says Ruckh, "Our biggest recruiting draw is that the company is very employee-focused and we have a family-oriented culture. Our size gives candidates visibility so there is great opportunity for reward and recognition."

Dress is business casual, with khaki pants and polo shirts the most common. Average commuting time in Memphis is 20 minutes; in Irving 30-45 minutes. First Tennessee has positioned itself as an employer of choice with its flexible work schedules, including compressed work weeks, work-from-home, reduced time, and part time with full benefits options. Telecommuting is not common, but is allowed as an option on some projects, with management approval.

Hours are from 8 AM to 5 PM. While most people do not travel as part of their jobs, managers may travel up to 20 to 30 percent of the time. The company makes marginal adjustments to employee levels, laying off fewer than one percent of its staff a year, and offers healthy severance benefits when positions are eliminated.

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First Tennessee provides an array of financial services, including:

• Retail and commercial banking through 400 facilities in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi
• Insurance, investments, and consumer finance, including managing assets for high net worth individuals and investment and trusts for employee benefit plans
• Credit cards, including consumer and business cards, travel and purchasing cards
• Underwriting for government securities
• Transaction processing for automated teller machines in nine states
• Mortgage banking in 32 states, helping to provide homeownership for more than 460,000 customers.

First Tennessee has one of the highest customer retention rates in the country. They are the largest Tennessee-based credit card issuer. They lead the industry in credit card transaction processing for stores.

First Tennessee has almost 10,000 employees, with 3,000 at corporate headquarters in Memphis.

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First Tennessee has 400 technical professionals. Half are in Memphis, the corporate headquarters; half at First Horizon in Irving, Texas. Job titles range from Trainee and Systems Engineer to Team Lead, Department Manager, Division Manager, and Chief Information Officer. There are both technical and management tracks, with Systems Engineers 1-6, where a Senior Systems Engineer is at the sixth level. The current technical staff, on average, have Bachelor's degrees in a technical discipline and 10 years of experience.

Technical candidates are found through online recruiting sites (, and employee referrals. Candidates should have at least a Bachelor's degree in a technical field. Currently, candidates should have a minimum of two years of experience. Says Kristin Sidaway, Staffing Specialist, "We will be developing a new program for entry-level folks. They will have to have a Bachelor's degree and a 3.0 GPA." Continues Sidaway, "We are working on an internship program now, which will start in the Spring (2002)."

Intangible qualities important for candidates include a customer focus, a team orientation, the ability to juggle several projects, and the flexibility to handle change. Says Sidaway, "Our culture is to go above and beyond, so we look for candidates that can help our business partners think through things. These are people with good technical ability who can also understand the needs of non-technical folks."

Pre-employment screening at First Tennessee includes drug and background checks, with fingerprints.

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Job Title





TAC Analyst II High School/GED, MCP/ MCSE certification 1 year 1st and 2nd level telephone support for Technical Assistance Center (TAC) Dallas/Irving, Texas
Relationship Specialist BA 1 year Technical support and bank product sales Memphis, Tennessee
LAN Administrator I BA CS 1 year Windows NT, 95, Sybase, Access Plus, Crystal Reports, SGL, PC 3270, Token Ring Network Memphis, Tennessee
Systems Engineer I BA 2-3 years Second level support for production systems Dallas/Irving, Texas
Systems Engineer II Some college 3-5 years Point-of-sale, DOS, SQL, database structures Dallas/Irving, Texas
Systems Engineer III BA 4-7 years SQL RDMS, MD tools, SDLC Dallas/Irving, Texas
Systems Engineer IV BA 3 years Novell Groupwise Netwand NDS tree design Dallas/Irving, Texas
Software Developer BA 3 years VB, ASP, IIS, Oracle PL/SQL, FileNet, Crystal Reports Dallas/Irving, Texas
Senior Software Developer BA 5 years ASP, IIS, VB, Oracle PL/SQL, FileNet Dallas/Irving, Texas
TMO Developer BA 5-7 years SQL RDMS, TMO, financial or mortgage experience Dallas/Irving, Texas
Sr. TMO Developer BA 5-7 years RPG, SQL RDMS, financial or mortgage experience Dallas/Irving, Texas
Information Technology Auditor III BA 3-5 years UNIX, Novell, computer security, disaster Memphis, Tennessee
Senior Systems Administrator BA, FileNet FCP Technician certification 3 years FileNet, document management, UNIX, NT Dallas/Irving, Texas
Network Systems Engineer High School/GED, Novell Administrator, Engineer, Microsoft Engineer certification 5 years NetWare 4.11 and 5.X and Windows NT 4.0, TCP/IP, IPX/SPX Dallas/Irving, Texas
Senior Information Security Engineer BA, CISSP, MSCE 5 years UNIX, NT administration, security response, policy, audits Dallas/Irving, Texas
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  • Computerworld, "Profile: Response Networks, Tracking Web App Performance," November 13, 2000
  • Computerworld, "Users Tell Their Java Tales," May 18, 1998
  • Fortune, "America's Top Employers," January 8, 2001
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