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  • Writer's pictureW.B. King

Women in Technology: O2 Consulting Group’s CEO Bonnie Ortiz

Updated: Jul 3

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 O2 Consulting Group CEO’s Bonnie Ortiz. The Arlington, Va.-based credit union service organization (CUSO) works with CEOs on improving operational foundations, a people, processes, and systems solution designed to ensure long-term success.


By W.B. King


While working for AT&T in the early 1990s, Bonnie Ortiz noticed that “technology was taking off,” realizing that nearly every project she encountered had technology weaved into its scope. Not wanting to fall behind the curve, she decided to go back to school.


“I pursued a certification in project management [from George Washington University] with an emphasis on complex technical projects over $1 million and involving multiple internal departments and outside vendors,” said Ortiz, who earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration in management and operations from the University of Pittsburgh.


Bonnie Ortiz

Charting Courses


Before landing at The Partnership Federal Credit Union as chief operating officer in 2009, she held several consulting positions, serving the healthcare space as well as in strategy analysis for both government and commercial organizations. Prior to founding and becoming O2 Consulting’s CEO in 2018, she held her last position with the credit union as executive vice president of professional services.


During her tenure, the credit union received the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Lending Council Excellence in Lending Award for the lending evolution project and the CUNA Louise Herring Philosophy-in-Action Member Service Award for the VIP Program, among other designations.


“I see far more women in the technology field than when I began my career, but the most significant change is more women in executive and senior technology leadership positions,” Ortiz told Finopotamus. “It has been a pleasure in recent years to mentor young women as they chart a course for their future.”


Opportunities to pay it forward, she explained, are usually presented when she is “filling the gaps” when credit unions are recruiting senior leadership replacement roles. “Acting as a fractional vice president of IT or a fractional chief operating officer with technology department staff reporting to me, coaching and training is an integral part of my responsibility.”


Work Smarter Not Harder


In 2023, after significantly growing the firm, PAHO/WHO Federal Credit Union purchased O2 Consulting Group, forming a CUSO. The organization currently counts nine credit unions as clients and one fintech, which serves the credit union space, she explained.


A recognized expert in strategy formation, process improvement and project management, Bonnie provided her clients with a comprehensive operational toolkit, aligning people, process, and systems to corporate goals.


“Technology is advancing rapidly, and as a result, management styles adapted from rigorous structure to iterative and agile methodologies,” she said. “Learning to work remotely and collaborate across departments has been a focus since COVID, challenging teams to work smarter rather than harder.”


Related changes over the last several years, she noted, have made room for “IT leadership and staff coaching and development to instill new skills and competencies for future success.” She continued, “In addition, while business analytics/intelligence remains at the forefront of technical necessities for leadership to make more sound decisions, artificial intelligence (AI) is the main topic in every solution discussion now.”


The firm supports seven employees, two of whom have expertise in technical fields and operate as virtual chief technology officers to clients and technical senior project managers. When building her team and recruiting talent, Ortiz relies on sage advice a female leader gave her years ago.


“The key factors that resonated most with me and that I use to this day include recruiting your team and selecting staff with the right skills and competencies, who often know more than you and come from diverse backgrounds with different ideas and positions on important topics,” she told Finopotamus. “Allowing that well-built team to brainstorm and collaborate to find the right solutions to the problems that they are charged with solving results in incredibly successful outcomes.”


Power and Purpose of Fintech Partnerships


The biggest tech trend Ortiz is noticing is the movement to digital channels for nearly all financial services organizations. This has forced many credit union leaders to revisit the need for full-service branches and in some cases, completely remodel respective retail business plans, she said.



“Credit unions are opting for smaller branches or kiosks supported by technology such as interactive teller machines [ITMs] and fewer people,” she noted. “The necessity to prioritize projects aligned to corporate goals and manage them with a smart approach has credit union leaders embracing project management methodologies and automated tools that support that discipline.”


With the intent of improving the member experience, while “unburdening staff to work on other critical initiatives,” AI solutions, she reiterated, are, as of late, the hot topic at almost all senior leadership meetings. “O2 Consulting Group is supporting numerous clients as they remodel their strategic plans and focus on innovative digital strategies,” she said.


The power and purpose of credit union and fintech partnerships, she added, “creates the ability to provide high-tech digital services combined with the empathetic, personalized service model that credit unions are known for.”


“People may want more self-service, but they don’t only want self-service,” Ortiz noted. “They need a place to go when they have more complex issues and questions, and their credit union is the answer.”

 

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