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 MX’s Vice President of Fintech Partnerships Corinne Bartow. The Lehi, Utah-based company offers a financial data platform and connects more than 16,000 financial institutions (FIs) and fintechs providing a reliable and secure data connectivity network.
By W.B. King
While Corinne Bartow enjoyed playing with Legos and puzzles as a child, as she grew older one thing became abundantly clear: She wasn’t interested in designing hardware systems.
“I tried product management briefly before taking a channel sales position for which I was totally unqualified,” said Bartow of the now defunct Silicon Valley, Calif.-based Newbridge Networks. During her successful seven-year tenure, which began in the mid-1990s, the company was acquired by Alcatel.
“Luckily, a mentor of mine [Jon Hooper] took a chance on me and neither of us ever looked back,” she said, adding that he inspired her recent affiliation with Chief.com. The organization is billed as the only private membership network focused on connecting and supporting women executive leaders.
“He was someone who’d come back to work after retiring. Actually, it was after his third failure at retiring that we met. His mentorship gave me a great deal of respect for the wisdom that comes from years of experience,” she continued. “And his faith in me was a real turning point in my career trajectory. I don’t know if I’d have discovered that I was a salesperson at heart if he hadn’t pushed me to take a chance. I do try to pay that forward in both casual and formal mentoring.”
Experience Informs Approach
Graduating with a degree in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic University, and later earning a certificate in marketing from University of California, Berkeley, Bartow’s career focus has long centered on forward-leaning technologies.
“I’ve held both direct and indirect sales roles, though over the last 24-plus years I’ve been completely focused on partnerships and alliances,” Bartow told Finopotamus.
For three years, she served as an IBM Alliance manager where she architected and implemented a strategic original equipment manufacturer (OEM) software license and joint go-to-market program with IBM for the company’s Lotus Sametime Unified Communications and Collaboration solutions. She next spent two years as the vice president of SpinVox (acquired by Nuance). Here she worked with enterprise solution providers, such as Cisco and Avaya, to integrate SpinVox’s messaging solution with respective offerings.
While working at Thunderhead (recently acquired by Medallia) as its head of alliances and channels, Bartow interfaced with partners like Deloitte, Lockheed Martin, Merlin and IBM. In this capacity, she redesigned programs and prioritized ecosystem partners to better support client needs, partner needs and internal business objectives.
Prior to joining MX in 2020 as its vice president of fintech partnerships, she also worked as a freelance consultant and as vice president of alliances at Kasisto, Inc., a company that offers an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot solution.
The totality of her work experiences, she noted, prepared her for her current position. But along the way, she noticed many ideological shifts in the tech space.
“So much has changed. We used to have multi-year development cycles that were quite rigid. If you didn’t predict just right, an immense amount of time and investment was wasted,” Bartow said. “Now, we include clients, partners, analysts, all kinds of voices in an iterative process that allows for quicker corrections.”
Value in Diversity
Ideological shifts in the FI space hasn’t only been related to development cycles and projections, Bartow said. Women filling certain tech roles have seen ebbs and flows. The latter is being realized at companies that understand the importance of diversity and inclusion, she noted.
“Early in my career there were fewer women going into tech roles and even fewer that stayed on that path. I actually think it dipped a bit before picking up. There are still many pockets in the industry that have too few women or other diverse voices,” she said. “But if you look at the companies that are most respected or most innovative, you can really see the value delivered by diversity. We are seeing more and more women in senior leadership, and that trend should be translating better into C-suite and board representation. I expect the trend to only continue in the coming years.”
When Finopotamus asked if there was another professional who has championed her career to date, Bartow referenced MX’s Chief Advocacy Officer Jane Barratt.
“I asked for a mentor at MX because I was looking for collaboration, feedback and support on all the typical challenges women face as our careers advance. I wasn't sure if that would be better with an internal versus external mentor,” Bartow said. “It’s been very helpful to have Jane as that sounding board. Even though the double bind is universal, every company has its nuances. I’m so lucky to have been paired with Jane.”
Dot Com Deja Vu
In an effort to better enable the ecosystem that engages with MX, Bartow said over the last few years the company has made certain strategic moves and gained new partners along the way. This was most recently the case with the launch of MXapi Processor Tokens in July 2022.
“We recently validated one of those product innovations, Processor Tokens, with a partner (Moov) that is now live. Before Processor Tokens, we didn’t have a great way for a client to share data with their partners. Tokens allow for that,” Bartow explained. “I think they’ll be a game changer in enabling partnerships between our FI and fintech partners. Other providers may have tokenized solutions, but I don’t think anyone has the vision that MX has in this area and I’m super excited for what’s to come.”
Bartow said that while she always keeps watch for tech trends in the market, certain “patterns” she’s currently noticing remind her of the perils leading to the dotcom crash of 2000.
“But I have faith that the industry is much wiser and less idealistic than we were back then. There are simply too many great uses for open finance and the infrastructure is now in place to meet the opportunity,” she continued. “What we’ve seen so far is more choice about who you bank with to acquire traditional services: loans, savings, checking and card solutions. What I expect to see are new ways of embedding or packing those building blocks so that they virtually become invisible.”
The Age of Collaboration
As MX’s vice president of fintech partnerships, Bartow said she believes the FI and fintech industries are moving from the age of competition to the age of collaboration.
“I think it really comes down to this…It’s hard for regulated FIs to innovate the way fintechs can,” she said. “But fintechs have a hard time building a customer base in this noisy, confusing environment.”
Finopotamus then asked: How do credit unions fit into this “age of collaboration” equation?
“I find credit unions to be so much more interested in financial wellness and truly helping their members to build financial strength,” Bartow responded. “If you look at what data and AI are enabling for consumers, the opportunity to realize that vision is immense and credit unions are where I expect to see much of that innovation happen.”
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