In what will be a recurring feature, Finopotamus will spotlight innovative women who are positively impacting technology applications in the credit union industry, and beyond.
For this issue, we spent time with LenderClose’s Chief Technology Officer Martina Schubert. The Des Moines, Iowa-based technology-focused lending company equips credit unions and community banks with innovative workflow and process automation solutions.
By W.B. King
When Martina Schubert began her career 31 years ago, she said the idea of working in technology was considered novel and not particularly popular, especially for women.
“There were few women in the industry, and none in executive roles. My parents, who were factory workers, did not understand why I would want to go to college,” Schubert reflected. “The truth was, I mostly wanted to do what my friends were doing, and they were going to college.”
While she would go on to earn an associate’s degree from Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University, and an executive MBA from the University of Iowa’s Tippie School of Management, Schubert said she wasn’t always studious. And, pursuing a career in computer programing was initially an “obstinate” whim.
“I was a C-average high school student, and recall putting forth the minimum effort in a computer programming class I took with Mr. Knox. He told me that he didn’t think I’d be able to take the next, more advanced class,” she recalled. “Well, that was it. I decided immediately that I would take the advanced class, and I would get an ‘A,’ which I did. And, I liked it.”
Schubert has held a host of positions throughout her career, including manager of application development for Maytag International, assistant vice president of Information Technology at Grinnell Mutual Insurance, and prior to assuming her post at LenderClose, she served as the chief technology officer for DLL, a financial services firm.
Looking back at past work experiences, Schubert explained she is most proud of the accomplishments that translated into bottom-line results. These successes were achieved, in part, by creating new systems for clients that provided visibility into respective data, and building the tech teams that worked together more efficiently.
“I thrive in an environment where I can empower others to be problem solvers. I love coaching team members and creating an environment where they can rise to the best version of themselves,” said Schubert. “Transformational coaching is essential to leading effective technical teams.”
While working at Maytag International, she noted the achievement of a team she led that built an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
“Working with that team was probably the most fun I have ever had in my career,” she said. “That is what I am building at LenderClose – a team focused on building a powerful product through constant collaboration and empowerment of each other.”
A CTO’s View on Tech Gender Roles
At LenderClose, Schubert is responsible for executing decisions that “positively impact current and future” operations, which includes managing staff. The company employees 32 employees with 12 staff members serving in technology roles. She explained that seven percent of the tech staff is Baby Boomers and the balance is equally divided between Generation X, Generation Y and Generation Z. She added that the overall gender mix is about 60% male, 40% female, with more of the younger team members being female.
With regard to gender breakdown of positions, Schubert offered the following statistics:
1) Engineers: 78% male and 22% female.
2) User interface/user experience: 100% female.
3) Business intelligence analysts: 100% female.
4) Delivery leads: 100% male.
“There are definitely more women today than when I started my career, but still not enough! It depends on the role, too,” said Schubert. “More women are entering roles as business analysts, scrum masters or delivery leads, but the number of female tech engineers and architects is still low by comparison.”
Forward Looking Thoughts
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented new business challenges that has required adjustments, explained Schubert, but she said that there are also positive takeaways. These include an increase in “flexibility and mindset” that is better preparing organizations to adapt to the “new normal” and meet new challenges.
“Many organizations now clearly recognize the need for automation, where these changes may have been lower priorities otherwise. I think we’ll see a new nimbleness and even greater embrace of technology going forward,” said Schubert. “Because we offer digital lending solutions that enable a completely remote loan process, it has felt very good to be able to help our credit union clients effectively respond to the new COVID-19 challenges. This has made our partnership with credit unions feel even more meaningful and valuable.”
While Schubert said that the credit union industry wants to become more “efficient and effective” by smartly utilizing technology, the financial sector has the burden of compliance and security, which can complicate operational approaches.
“What I love seeing in the credit union industry is the creation of platforms and innovations that make technology and digital transformation accessible to credit unions of all sizes – not just the ones with the most resources,” she said.