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 Praxent’s Head Recruiting Manager Molly Middleton. Over the last 20 years, the Austin, Texas-based fintech has delivered over 300 software transformations and helped hundreds of businesses provide a more modern, intuitive digital experience to its customers.
By W.B. King
One day while browsing her inbox, Molly Middleton read the following subject line: “Congratulations, you won!” Not recognizing the sender, she assumed it was some sort of spam; however, she also felt a twinge of intrigue and decided to click on the missive. And it’s a good thing she did. Middleton had won Built In’s 2022 Moxie Award for Women in Tech. But there’s a twist: She never entered the contest.
“My initial reaction was ‘whoa,’ followed by a message to my team asking, ‘Which one of you did this?’ They all congratulated and celebrated me,” Middleton said. “The more I read about the background of the award, the more I felt an overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment. I felt seen, valued and appreciated in a way much more rewarding than a simple ‘thank you’ could ever provide.”
Launched in 2011, Built In was designed to unite talent and technology. And rather than honoring C-suite or vice president-level leaders, the company’s website stated “the 2022 Moxie Awards celebrate women across the U.S. who are likely to ascend to the pinnacle of their careers in tech — and who are already on their way. This may include people with titles like director, individual contributor, manager — or any role with room to rise.”
The company further noted the annual awards program “recognizes women in technology who have made notable contributions to their workplaces, communities and the industry as a whole.”
For 2022, the judges, who are all senior female leaders in tech, evaluated nearly 1,000 nominations and selected the winners based on who showed the most “moxie,” a combination of courage, determination, energy and know-how. In total, 100 “Women in Tech” nominees share the coveted 2022 designation with Middleton.
“This award is exciting for reasons beyond recognition of my own contributions to the tech industry. More broadly, it means that women in technology are being celebrated and acknowledged, which is critical in helping boost representation of women in the field,” Middleton said. “My hope is that women in technology know that they are capable and valued. From this award, I have learned the importance of saying ‘yes’ to different opportunities because you never know where the road can lead, and I hope other women can take that away.”
Recruiting Tech Talent
Before joining Praxent three years ago as its recruiting manager, Middleton worked as a recruiting coordinator at Capitol One and Google. The University of Texas at Dallas graduate said she has always been inspired to challenge the status quo.
“It’s no secret that women are underrepresented in the tech industry,” she said. “Receiving the opportunity to take a small part in challenging those statistics is what lights a fire under me each day, working towards making a difference and collaborating with contrasting personalities and perspectives. It’s truly a blast.”
As a tech recruiter, Middleton has noticed several differences in the roles and positions she recruits for as well as the candidates looking to fill those positions.
“The use of technology in and of itself has been a change; the way that we have grown to automate many of the tasks we once had to complete manually or in person shows just how innovative the industry is,” she continued. “As the technology space continues to evolve, the concept of remote work has proved fruitful and beneficial, not just for recruiting departments, but across enterprises.”
While Middleton said the fintech and financial services industries have welcomed more women in to tech positions in recent years, there is still work to be done.
“I am proud of the headway we have made in the technology space, but we must not settle or slow down, continuing to break down the barriers and encouraging women in technology to foster innovation,” she said.
Praxent, she noted, supports 85 employees, all tech-facing. Approximately 80% of these employees are male millennials. Women, she added, are better represented in non-engineering departments.
“I am proud of the work we have done here at Praxent to challenge our gender diversity statistics, and I am motivated by the work still left to do in this area,” she said. “We as women have a place at the table and will only continue to climb the ladder to success.”
Like many rising executives, Middleton said she is grateful for the support she has received throughout her career. Praxent’s Senior Director of Operations Chris Walker tops her list.
“Where I stand today reflects the strength of mentors I’ve learned from. For example, my biggest champion has been my current manager, Chris Walker. Even though Chris and I did not begin working together early in my career, Chris’s tenacity, graciousness and successes have inspired me to grow beyond any and all of my own barriers,” she said. “I try to exhibit the same characteristics in doing so through one-on-one mentorship both internally in our organization and externally through personal office hours for women in technology.”
Digital Channel Differentiators
As described by Middleton, Praxent is a fintech UX design and engineering partner helping financial services companies launch new products, modernize existing ones, successfully implement complex integrations, and remain relevant in an ever-changing market.
Since the company “delves into the complicated worlds of consulting, innovative software development and financial services technology, Middleton said “finding the right talent to suit such exciting projects” is extremely gratifying.
“I am proud of the individuals I have championed to join the team who either continue or begin their careers at Praxent, contributing to our company’s ongoing success,” she offered.
On the credit union front, Middleton says Praxent, which counts two credit unions as clients, has recently experienced more executives realizing the importance of differentiators in the digital channel.
“If a digital experience is member-facing, it should be custom-built instead of being picked off the shelf, mirroring experiences offered by dozens if not hundreds of other community [financial] institutions,” she noted.
“Credit unions have to be extremely strategic when it comes to technology. Unlike large national banks with massive technology budgets, credit unions are typically working with fewer resources,” Middleton continued. “They have an opportunity to take that differentiator of member service and community support, but they must figure out how to translate it within the digital experience. It’s critical for success moving forward.”
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