By W.B. King
In what is a recurring feature, Finopotamus spotlights innovative women who are positively impacting technology applications in the credit union industry, and beyond.
For this issue, we spent time with PSCU’s Vice President of IT Service Desk Operations, Angee Phong. The St. Petersburg, Fla.-based payments CUSO partners with credit unions to meet evolving member demands and supports more than 1,500 credit unions, representing more than 5.4 billion transactions annually.
Back in 2001 while serving as the director of game operations and media relations for National Pro Fastpitch, formerly the Women’s Pro Softball League, Angee Phong was happy to be part of an exciting grass roots organization. And during her three year tenure, two of the organization’s teams, the Tampa Bay FireStix and the Orlando Wahoos, went on to become league champions.
Phong gained valuable experience in her sports management role — from crafting press releases to designing team merchandise to using QuarkXPress to trouble shooting office computers and printers. She didn’t, however, necessarily see a career in technology.
“The pivotal moment between my sports management career and technology came when the league decided to shut the teams down and restructure,” recalled Phong. “After some thought, I enrolled in a local IT training school and used my severance to help pay for it.”
Before joining PSCU as its vice president of IT service desk operations, a newly created leadership position, Phong worked for a number of organizations. Previous posts included being responsible for the end-to-end delivery of the global Disney IT support center with The Walt Disney Company and a technology manager at Bristol-Myers Squibb.
We Rise Together
An active member of the Women In Technology Institute (WITI), who recently served as a Help Desk Institute (HDI) Advisory Board member, Phong said that over the course of her career she has noticed an increasing number of women working in technology.
“I think there has been much more focus on promoting women in the technology field and education around all the various opportunities that it offers. Organizations, such as WITI and HDI have definitely put the spotlight on networking, events and promoting opportunities to women,” she noted. “Other organizations are also creating new or refreshed initiatives around diversity, equity and inclusion.”
In her leadership role at PSCU, Phong is always looking for opportunities to support those coming up behind her, which is a philosophy she learned by example.
“My champion is Arnell Davis, the head of enterprise service center at Bristol-Myers Squibb. Her support is unwavering and I appreciated her positive leadership style as it enabled me to thrive as one of her managers,” said Phong. “She leads by example and with integrity, transparency and resiliency. I pay it forward by balancing my commitment to PSCU and my team.”
As an example of paying it forward, Phong explained that her department is currently working to achieve HDI team certification. And even though she holds HDI certification, she is preparing to sit for the HDI certification exam alongside her team.
“My motto is ‘We Rise Together’ and I truly enjoy supporting my team through their professional journey,” said Phong.
It’s not only in the workplace where she gives back. An advanced open water diver and professional association of diving instructor (PADI) for many years, Phong is the co-founder of the Tampa, Fla. –based Paddle4Autism. The non-profit organization teaches children on the spectrum and those with special needs how to paddleboard and surf.
“Our mission is transcending the spectrum,” she noted. “Paddle4Autism brings children and families together to inspire and support each other.”
Impactful and Stimulating Work
Joining an established company in a newly developed role during a pandemic presented its share of challenges. But Phong, who started with PSCU in July 2020, quickly learned to lean into the credit union philosophy of “people helping people.” This ethos, she said, sets the credit union industry apart from its competition.
“It truly is at the heart of all that we do at PSCU, as well as what our owner credit unions do. We want to provide support and assistance to not only credit union members, employees and other stakeholders, but also to the communities in which we all live and work,” she said. “This type of commitment is rare within other industries and makes the work we are doing that much more impactful and stimulating.”
Aside from noticing more women in technology, Phong said that since 2000, and due to the pandemic, management’s view of employees being able to efficiently work from home has significantly changed.
“When I started my career, it was often frowned upon to work from home and even if you were authorized, you needed to ensure you had the correct configuration to do so successfully. Did you, for example, leave your work computer on and are your remote desktop settings configured correctly,” she noted. “Today, we consistently use VPNs or Aruba devices that connect a user seamlessly. More so, some companies have worked diligently to determine what internal sites can be offered to users off the corporate network to improve their employee’s experience and help them ‘get work done faster.’”
To achieve company-wide objectives, such as recently transitioning PSCU’s network operations center into an enterprise service desk, Phong works closely with the IT department’s 175-plus employees who represent a cross-section of demographics.
“About half are Gen X, one third are millennials and the remainder are baby boomers,” she explained. “We also skew much more male overall, but of the females one third are baby boomers, followed by Gen X and then millennials.”
Always moving forward, Phong said she is excited to lead PSCU’s renewed IT focus on customer service and spearheading the transition from a legacy operations center to a more effective, customer-focused service desk. She also has her eye on future tech initiatives.
“Artificial intelligence has definitely been trending,” she said. “It is exciting to see how it has evolved over the last 10 years and integrating with various IT service management tools. The expansion of features and functionality is astounding.”
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