Women in Technology: Constellation Digital Partners’ Lauren Moran
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 visited with Lauren Moran, chief operating officer at Constellation Digital Partners. The Raleigh, N.C.-based credit union service organization (CUSO) offers a cloud-based suite of digital financial services dedicated solely to credit unions.
By W.B. King
Beginning her career as consultant for a financial services firm, Lauren Moran eventually oversaw software implementations for banks, which was her first glimpse into all the moving parts — configuring, testing, planning — required to successfully install tech products on a large scale.
“I never considered myself a part of the tech industry, as I don’t have a degree in a technical discipline,” she told Finopotamus. “However, I love the operational side of technology – creating cohesive, efficient processes to either enable the building of technology, or supporting its use.”
Prior to joining Constellation Digital Partners in 2017 as its chief of staff, Moran, who earned her undergraduate degree in business administration from James Madison University and her master’s degree from Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, spent more than eight years at PricewaterhouseCoopers as a senior associate and manager.
Before assuming her current role of chief operating officer in 2022, she held a number of positions at Constellation Digital Partners, including chief experience officer and senior vice president of implementations. During this time period, she noticed changes within the industry.
“Innovation seems to come to market faster and faster. This means larger, strategic product decisions – those that require more time to build – might need to quickly shift midflight before development is complete (and depending on the competitive landscape),” she continued. “This not only puts a lot of pressure on the organization to really understand its market and competition, but also to create flexible product development processes that can allow for adjustments and pivots along the way.”
Explaining that the “fundamentals of agile development” haven’t changed since she started at Constellation Digital Partners, she noted the company has recently placed more focus on its product development methodology.
“It may seem simple, but the better you can define and design the result, the more you set yourself up for success in both development and testing, and ultimately customer satisfaction,” she said.
“Moreover, if you do need to pivot in development, due to a market shift or company priority, you will have a much better idea how that shift will impact your work,” Moran added. “And if you do end up needing to go back to the analysis/design stage, you will have solid, concrete deliverables to go from rather than starting from scratch.”
We All Need People in Our Corner
When Finopotamus asked if Moran felt there was a good balance of women working in the fintech space, she offered a quote from former Chief Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.”
In Moran’s view, since women comprise roughly 50% of the population, the number of women working in technology should be nearly equivalent.
“I would like to see more women engineers and developers. While women still feel underrepresented in these roles, I do think we’re seeing more and more women in critical roles that facilitate technologies getting to market: product management, design, testing/quality assurance, system administration, customer success/support, implementations, sales, and partnerships,” she said. “Until all our tech companies are 50% women, there is still work to be done.”
A former female colleague at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Allie Hoover, served as a mentor encouraging Moran to break any glass ceilings. Hoover, she explained, was then a senior leader in the company’s financial services division.
“She really helped me see early in my career was that women can succeed in historically male-dominated industries by stating aloud what we want and building a network of people who support that vision,” she continued. “Alie is a hard-working mom to two daughters, with a working husband. She’s smart, fun, empathetic, classy and everyone’s biggest cheerleader; to be honest not a common collection of attributes I’d experienced in leaders up until that point in my career.”
Among lessons Hoover taught her was that “no matter how amazing someone might be, we all need people in our corner.”
“The truth is that we can’t be amazing mothers, spouses or employees without help. That includes male coworkers who support and help foster the advancement of their female colleagues just as fervently as they do for their male counterparts,” she continued. “I trust I will never fill the shoes of someone like Alie, but I am intentional about doing what I can to support my team members in and out of work. I try to create an environment where we can openly talk about their goals (even if those goals will ultimately pull them away from Constellation).”
Credit Union Superpower
With approximately 45 employees, Moran explained that Constellation Digital Partners is continually seeking ways to best serve its clients, which include 14 credit unions. To this end, the firm, which was founded in 2017, launched two new products over the last two years.
“Our Fintech Connect product exposes digital services to credit unions, regardless of their digital banking or core provider, while our digital banking platform enables that same ease of integration with a full, comprehensive suite of banking capabilities,” she explained. “These are cloud-native and offer more flexibility than online banking products of the past.”
Noting that artificial intelligence (AI) “is all the rage now,” she said the company is “very interested” in tactical applications, specifically those that can make internal processes “smarter” and more efficient.
“We are experimenting with AI workflow tools in our product development process. Our goal is to use AI to create consistently better epic and feature documents to allow us time savings in requirement capture and stakeholder conversations,” she offered. “We’re also exploring AI tools to improve our end-user documentation across all our end-user personas: internal resources, fintech partners and customers alike.”
As a CUSO, Moran said Constellation Digital Partners serves as a “cheerleader” for the credit union movement. CUSOs, she added, “combine the collaborative and member-first spirit of the credit union, with a purpose-driven workforce tailored to accomplish its mission.” And over the course of her career, she has only witnessed cross-organization cooperation/collaboration in the credit union space.
“Their willingness to come together to solve their shared critical issues and challenges is the industry’s superpower. Constellation was created because 11 credit unions came together to create a better solution for their digital services and technology roadmaps,” she noted. “We are stronger because we were built on the ideas of many, as opposed to one, and at Constellation, we carry that spirit of openness in everything we do.”