Millie Liggins implements IT at Walgreens and abroad
“My father helped us get away from stereotypes and cultural barriers by emphasizing the importance of education every step of the way”
'I’m all about creating value and being a viable contributor, whether in the workplace or in my personal endeavors,” says Millie Liggins. “I think a core value system enables others to identify one’s drive, commitment and focused ability to deliver. That’s what differentiates the players from the playmakers.”
Since 1996, Liggins has been a playmaker at Walgreens (Deerfield, IL). As IT implementations lead, Liggins manages a team of rollout coordinators and a database designer to define, develop and deploy technology solutions providing end-to-end project management for often-complex projects.
“I’m part of a small team of five people,” Liggins explains. “We work with hundreds of field service technicians across the enterprise network to deploy IT equipment at all 8,000-plus Walgreens stores.
“We have four project analysts and one programmer analyst who work on project lifecycles, from requirements through design, implementation and support to ensure appropriate technology at every stage.
“My job is to establish and maintain project governance, facilitate open information flows among project stakeholders, collaborate with and provide guidance to other systems analysts and act as a project leader where required,” she sums up.
“I encourage staff to be a part of the decision-making process wherever possible,” she says. “And I keep staff informed about everything that affects their work and careers.”
One of Liggins’ recent projects involved Walgreens’ 2012 acquisition of a regional drugstore chain of 144 stores in seven states. It also included corporate offices and a distribution center.
“I was the field services (FS) implementations manager overseeing store schedules and weekly reporting to ensure a smooth transition from the USA Drug legacy network to our Walgreens IC+ network,” explains Liggins. “Among other things, I was involved with resource management of field techs and other FS analysts, project and schedule management for the conversions, status reporting on multiple levels, issue remediation, and cross-team coordination from their network to ours.”
Strong family influence shapes a career
Liggins is from Chicago and one of eight children. As a child she wanted to be a registered nurse or work somewhere in the medical field. She credits her parents and grandparents with shaping her career philosophy. “My parents and grandparents taught me to ‘go not where the path may lead, but go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote illustrated a key life lesson in my childhood.
“They provided me with unconditional love and support,” she continues. “They provided live examples of hard work, perseverance, integrity, family and the importance of education. I learned how to lead and take ownership of difficult challenges and situations from my father and other family role models who steered me in the right direction again and again.
“My dad taught me how to overcome doubt and fear in order to achieve my goals. He always told me I could do whatever I wanted in life, as long as I was willing to put in the hard work. He helped all of us get away from stereotypes and cultural barriers by emphasizing the importance of education every step of the way. This gave me the confidence to succeed in different jobs, and in life.”
Liggins admits she came late to IT. “Actually, my interest was sparked on the job, and Walgreens gave me the opportunity to excel in this area. I started in 1996, working in the data center as a tape librarian. My husband worked for Walgreens in the network department. He seemed to enjoy himself and I wanted to work for the same company that brought him so much happiness,” she says with a smile.
In 1997, she was promoted to data control and operations supervisor, leading a team of eighteen IT specialists.
“In 2002, I was promoted to data center operations manager. For the next four years, I was responsible for coordinating all computer operations activities and production schedules,” she reports. Then she moved into her current position.
Bringing technology to the less fortunate
Liggins also applies her tech savvy to charity work. She’s won awards for her community service, most notably through the Chicago chapter of the Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA).
She’s a director of the World Computer Exchange (WCE, Hull, MA). WCE raises money to collect and refurbish technology, and sends computers to impoverished nations around the world. WCE volunteers also teach the recipients how to use their new computers. Liggins notes that Walgreens has donated about two-thirds of the computers that have left Chicago since 2009.
In 2011, she received the BDPA Epsilon award for community service, recognizing her as an individual in the tech sector who has made an impact through volunteer and charity work. “Between my knowledge of IT and my community service work bringing technology to the disenfranchised, I am doing great things,” Liggins believes. “I have been very fortunate in my career, but I’ve also worked very hard and strategically to turn possibilities into realities.
“Those who have mentored and groomed me along the way all know that I learn, produce and give back. That’s my formula for continued success. I’d like to establish myself as a thought leader and influencer who is recognized by my peers for having progressive and innovative ideas.”
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