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 spent time with IU Credit Union’s Senior Vice President of Information Technology, Teddie Gambler.
By W.B. King
Beginning her career in 1991 as teller at Travis Credit Union and later assuming the role of its first project management and operations specialist, Teddie Gambler said that while her current and past employers have embraced women in technology, on average less than one-third of respective technology staff were women.
“Although I do see more women in technology today, I feel the ratio is still disproportionate, especially in leadership roles,” she said, adding that there are many barriers regarding careers in technology for both women and men.
Before assuming her current role as senior vice president of information technology at the Bloomington, Ind.-based IU Credit Union in 2014, Gambler held a handful of technology-focused positions. Posts included including serving eight years at State Department Federal Credit Union in information technology management, and as an operations analyst at Lockheed Martin and internal auditor at Burke & Herbert Bank.
“Technology can be demanding and unpredictable. If working in an industry heavily dependent on technology, systems need to be available around the clock. This often requires long hours and having to respond to system events after hours. Balancing the demands of the job can be challenging,” she continued. “As leaders we need to support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs that encourage careers in technology, especially for women.”
With a master’s degree in communication technology from Strayer University and a bachelor’s degree in information systems management from University of Phoenix, Gambler also holds certifications in information security, information services management and project management. Her areas of specialty are information systems management, cybersecurity, and strategic planning.
Among her early career tech highlights were implementing electronic forms and form design, transitioning from traditional ATM cards to debit cards and launching bill payment services via online banking.
“Working on these projects sparked my interest in technology, specifically within the programming area,” she said. “From that point forward, there was no turning back. I was hooked!”
Seemingly every executive can point to one person who was a change agent — a mentor. For Gambler, a former credit union manager stands out.
“I have had several mentors who have provided guidance and encouragement over the years, but my biggest champion was a former manager, Craig Crismon,” she reflected. “Craig and I worked for a California-based credit union as operational liaisons for the implementation of new products and services. Often they say others can see strengths within you that you cannot see in yourself; Craig was that person for me.”
Gambler looks for ways to “pay it forward” within the credit union, but also in her community. Regarding the latter, she serves on the board of directors for the local Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program. The volunteer initiative provides representation in juvenile court for child victims of abuse and neglect.
“I also volunteer time and serve as panelist for our chamber of commerce’s youth education initiatives that provide career awareness and workforce development services for youth in our community,” she said. “One of the things I have enjoyed most is serving as a volunteer EMT for nine years, acting in the capacity of a field training officer (FTO) for five of the nine. As an FTO, my responsibilities focused on helping young adults develop skills necessary to advance their career in emergency services.”
Tech is Ever-Evolving
Along with the changing role of women in the field of technology, Gambler said she has also experienced a difference in management ideologies. In the 1990s, a “top-down approach,” she noted, was common when new services and solutions were considered. Technical employees were leveraged for implementation, but often not in the evaluation of the solution or providers.
“With advancements in technology, there has been a shift in management philosophy. Technology departments have grown beyond fulfilling a traditional support role and are now viewed as trusted advisors within the organization,” she noted. “Technology departments develop solutions to create efficiencies, advise on security risks associated with new products and services, optimize data processing workflows, and recommend best practices for integration and deployment.”
The $1.3 billion IU Credit Union serves more than 68,000 members. Gambler explained that of the 210 employees, 10 serve in the information technology department.
“Three of these employees are women,” said Gambler. “And, we have a good balance between GenXers and millennials, with six GenXers and four millennials.”
When asked what trends her department is seeing in the industry, she noted that technology is constantly transforming in the same way interactions with members continue to change.
“Technology will continue to evolve with big data and predictive analytics. Future technology will provide members with a means to analyze their past spending behavior in real-time, leading them to make better financial decisions,” said Gambler. “Imagine, for instance, a day when a member can leverage technology to help them determine what spending habits they can modify to reach specific savings goals.”
With more than 27 years experience in the financial services industry and 21 years experience in technology related disciplines, Gambler said that while credit unions traditionally didn’t have the funding or resources to develop technology solutions in-house, a shift is occurring.
“In recent years, credit unions have bridged this gap through collaboration with other credit unions, integration of turnkey solutions, and leveraging vendor relationships,” said Gambler. “Although many are not leading edge with technology-based offerings, through these partnerships, we now have the ability to be fast followers.”