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CICS / MQ System Programmer

At Northwestern Mutual, we are strong, innovative and growing. We invest in our people. We care and make a positive difference.

What's the role?

Northwestern Mutual is a leading Life Insurance, Financial Planning, and Investment company where we believe in putting people first. As a mutual company, we don't have shareholders, so instead of reporting to Wall Street, we report to our policy owners. NW has earned the highest financial strength ratings awarded to life insurers from all four major rating agencies.

We are looking for a subject matter expert (SME) of Mainframe CICS / MQ who would look after the critical infrastructure that underpins Northwestern Mutual where 85% of the business runs through. This is a hands-on role where you’ll configure and maintain products and services according to standards and policies. As a CICS System Administrator you must have experience in installation, configuration, maintenance, and monitoring of CICS regions, MQ products and related ISV products, with z/OS Connect and TableBase being a plus. The SME for this team is required to work on critical systems and strategic projects associated across all business divisions, as well as technology and process service improvements.

  • Self-starting and motivate, works under little supervision
  • Ability to self-manage multiple projects
  • Network with employees, vendors, and outside organizations to help find solutions or opportunities for improvement
  • Regular communications with their peers; Shares information with the awareness of its effect on others; Demonstrate a balance of speaking and listening so that neither is overly dominant
  • Create technical documents; Review, edit and offer suggestions to others with appropriate oral and written communications. Concise and diplomatic
  • Understand waterfall and/or Agile processes

Bring your best! What this role needs:

  • Demonstrate a thorough working knowledge of the mainframe platform (software / hardware) for CICS and MQ
  • Understand & perform typical system programmer (SYSPROG) tasks such as: the upgrade & maintenance process, SMP/e, HOLDDATA, early code, target zones/libraries, system libraries, terse files, end or marketing (EOM) and end of life (EOL), review implementation procedures and make recommendations to ensure a smooth product release and system upgrades.
  • Understand vendor communication protocols/forms when issues arise: PMR, PTF, Hyper fixes, APAR
  • Basic understanding of MVS: z/15, CPUs, SYSPLEX, LPAR, coupling facility, zIIPs, general purpose machines, WLM, DVIPA, JCL, PDS, ISPF, SMF, IFCIDs, RMF/CMF
  • Basic understanding of storage: SMS, ACS routine, storage pools, vendors (IBM, Hitachi, etc.)
  • Understanding of security: certificates/key rings, RACF, pervasive encryption
  • Work with management to resolve middleware risks that has been identified by compliance, internal and external auditors.
  • Understanding of High Availability: CICSPlex System Manager (CPSM), MQ queue sharing and RLS
  • Understanding of z/OS CICS architecture; minimum product exposure: CICS - TOR, AOR, WOR, FOR, CSD, RDO
  • Understanding of CICS dynamic routing
  • Understanding of CICS Regions and how it is used to communicate with DB2 & MQ
  • Understanding of z/OS MQ architecture; minimum product exposure MQ - channels & queues
  • Understanding of MQ queue mangers/channels and how it is used to communicate with DB2 & CICS
  • Understanding and build out of z/OS Connect, including Dockers, Kubernetes, etc.
  • Provide recommendations for the middleware platform ensuring its stability, reliability, recoverability, security, scalability.
  • Help build out a multi-tendency highly available environment and then ensure continued scalability within the platform.
  • Participate in DR exercises; effectively utilizes recovery control practices; implementing changes to ensure recoverability of platform.
  • Experience working with vendor utilities; demonstrate knowledge of monitoring tools available
  • Continues professional education and creates opportunities for broader engineering teams to learn industry best practices.
  • Identify, research, and implement new tools, technology, or improvements on the middleware platform
  • Contributes to product delivery, influenced by strategic direction across business technology and enterprise including investment decisions (i.e., build vs buy) across multiple products. Uses automation, system tools, open-source solutions, observability and 'security first' principles in daily work.
  • Provide permanent resolution/follow-up for issues; gather enough information to understand problem correctly.
  • Serves as escalation point when needed; Provide oncall support
  • Actively monitors system and application performance, connectivity issues, system events and alerts; recognizing performance implication that the system design has; troubleshoot and diagnose issues; provide tuning recommendation; work with development/management on tuning efforts and implementation of changes; tests, analyzes, performs corrective actions, and restore availability and services in a timely and accurate manner to eliminate/reduce application impact. Provides timely notifications to management/CIRT team and escalate tickets to appropriate internal management as needed.
  • Plans and performs scheduled changes (patching, maintenance, deployment, decommission, configuration, performance tuning) for software used to support the infrastructure; Alerts appropriate areas of possible impact of change, whether positive or negative customer exposure to build customer satisfaction; notifies management of problems early in the process; mitigate risk and ensure that back-outs can be done within a specified timeframe delivering on the SLA business requirements
  • Provides consultative services to infrastructure and application teams regarding project work, POCs and/or troubleshooting exercises.
  • Understanding of IBMs strategic software licensing & catalog
  • Knowledge in PL/1, COBOL, REXX, JAVA, or Python
  • Knowledge of Assembler a plus

Our Benefits!

  • Collaborative team first environment
  • Tons of room for career growth.
  • We offer highly competitive compensation, including annual bonus opportunities
  • Medical/Dental/Vision plans, 401(k), pension program
  • We provide tuition reimbursement, commuter plans, and paid time off
  • We provide extensive Professional Training Opportunities
  • We offer an excellent Work/Life Balance
  • Hackathons/Dedication to Innovation


Compensation Range:

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Northwestern Mutual pays on a geographic-specific salary structure and placement in the salary range for this position will be determined by a number of factors including the skills, education, training, credentials and experience of the candidate; the scope, complexity as well as the cost of labor in the market; and other conditions of employment. At Northwestern Mutual, it is not typical for an individual to be hired at or near the top of the range for their role and compensation decisions are dependent on the facts and circumstances of each case. Please note that the salary range listed in the posting is the standard pay structure. Positions in certain locations (such as California) may provide an increase on the standard pay structure based on the location. Please click here for additiona l information relating to location-based pay structures.

Grow your career with a best-in-class company that puts our client’s interests at the center of all we do. Get started now!

We are an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age or status as a protected veteran, or any other characteristic protected by law.

If you work or would be working in California, Colorado, New York City, Washington or outside of a Corporate location, please click here for information pertaining to compensation and benefits.


We’re excited about the potential people bring to Northwestern Mutual. You can grow your career here while enjoying first-class perks, benefits, and commitment to diversity and inclusion.