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  • Writer's pictureW.B. King

Women in Technology: Unitus Community Credit Union’s Megan Snyder

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 Unitus Community Credit Union’s Megan Snyder who serves as vice president of strategic partnerships and portfolio management for the Portland. Ore.-based credit union, which supports more than 108,000 members at 13 branch, including a virtual location.

By W.B. King

Serving nearly 20 years in the financial services industry, Megan Snyder took a career detour in 2015, becoming operations manager for the New York City-based Adexchanger, a digital media forum catering to marketers, agencies, publishers and tech companies. While this two-year experience allowed her to “work more closely with tech,” she told Finopotamus that her career has always been tethered to technology.

“When I returned to the finance industry and through my leadership positions, I began designing, developing and implementing technology solutions,” she said.

Megan Snyder

Earning her undergraduate degree in business administration and management from the University of Oregon, and her master’s degree in management (focusing on strategic innovation) from the University of Alabama, Snyder held several jobs before becoming Unitus Community CU’s vice president of strategic partnerships and portfolio management. These posts included serving as a senior credit manager at Wells Fargo and a bankruptcy manager at IBM Seterus.

“From the start of my career through today, I’ve seen tech and innovation become embedded into our daily work. Gone are the days of siloed IT teams — technology lives in each area,” she continued. “Leveraging best practices through technology helps differentiate our products and processes. Companies are starting to build innovation into job descriptions and goals to encourage new and innovative ways of working and collaborating.”

No More Unicorns

Among other changes Snyder has witnessed is the letting go of “the unicorn,” which she equates to a once perceived “perfect solution.” This My Little Pony concept of business operations has been replaced by minimum viable products or MVPs. “These are commonly seen as a quick way to deliver the first phase of a product to market, while continuing to build future phases as it is in production,” she shared with Finopotamus.

“Perhaps the most impressive changes I’ve seen is that it’s no longer either/or. We are no longer forced to weigh technological innovation against support for our community; we now implement technology as we support our community,” she continued. “This shift in mindset means our investments serve multiple purposes and considerations for each of those purposes are built into the innovation at step one.”

Whereas Snyder is seeing more women embracing tech and finding leadership positions that support innovation and technology solutions in recent years, she contends that there still remains a large gender disparity.

“From help desk and network engineers to developers and programmers, the tech industry is still heavily male-dominated,” she said. “The future, however, is bright; technology is being brought into classrooms more often, and roles like mine that support tech, provide space for females to learn and develop in this space.”

Financial Empowerment

To illustrate her point, Snyder reflected on her own career. “I spent 15 years in lending, but my passion for innovation and my willingness to learn has me now leading app development for our team. Females most certainly belong in this space.”

The innovative apps she referenced are called Azie and Rise. The development of the former, she explained, supports the Financial Empowerment Collaborative (FEC), a pilot program in partnership with the Urban League of Portland providing financial education workshops, credit union resources, and financial coaching to Black Oregonians. Advantis Credit Union, Consolidated Community Credit Union, Point West Credit Union, Rivermark Community Credit Union, and the GoWest Foundation are all partners in the FEC, she noted.

The app, which won the World Council of Credit Union’s Digital Growth Award (2023), was named after Azie Taylor Morton, the first Black American to hold the position of Treasurer of the United States.

“Azie introduces the Urban League community to financial services, connecting them to the credit union that best aligns with their needs,” she continued. “This inclusive process is designed to foster financial and housing stability, while creating and sustaining generational wealth. The app also offers coaching, helpful tools to build credit and calculate expenses, and personalized planning for savings and other goals.”

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

As the executive director of the CUSO, Rise Together LLC, Snyder always looks to help people at work and in the community, a philosophy adopted from personal experiences. Counting her parents as her number one champions, she also noted Unitus Community CU’s CEO Steven Stapp and Chief Strategy Officer David Fehrer.

“My Unitus leadership team has provided support, radical candor, and new opportunities which have helped me learn, develop, and grow. David and Steve have helped me see my potential and fight the inner ‘imposter syndrome’ that haunts many women,” she shared. “I wouldn’t be where I am in my career without David and Steve’s support and willingness to listen to my questions and engage in rigorous discussion.”

Among ways the bilingual Snyder pays it forward is by working as a mentor for the National Latino Credit Union Professionals, but her efforts in this regard don’t stop there.

“I also mentor two emerging female leaders at Unitus, supporting their journey to leadership,” she told Finopotamus. “I have had opportunities because of the women that came before me, and my goal is to empower our future female leaders to break a few glass ceilings on their path to a brighter and more equitable future.”

Personalizing the Financial Wellness Journey

Along with Unitus Community CU’s exciting app initiatives, Snyder is paying close attention to artificial intelligence (AI) innovations within the payments space.

“For Unitus, AI is a tool to help support our current members in the best way possible and reach new members by highlighting the services they need and want,” she noted. “As far as payments, this is a whole new world compared to 20 years ago when I entered the industry.”

Noting buy now, pay later (BNPL), real-time payments and fintech disrupters, she said traditional financial institutions have had to change respective approaches to payments.

“This excites me the most because this is where innovation thrives,” she said. “Credit unions are positioned to make great impact if they have the courage to create and invest in these areas.”

To achieve tech-related goals, credit unions must embrace forward-looking partnerships with fintechs — the ones who understand the “people helping people” credit union ethos, she added. To that end, Unitus Community CU’s partnership with FTSI made the Azie and Rise apps possible, she explained.

“These partnerships allow us to quickly implement and offer new solutions to our members, without the operational burden of building and supporting these solutions on our own,” she added. “It also broadens the think tank to a wider group, providing space for more diversity of thought and ideas.”

Snyder believes credit unions are a competitive force — well-suited to not only retain current membership but attract the next generation.

“What I have learned is that no matter how innovative, digital, and self-serve a solution is, people still desire a human to support them on their journey to financial wellness. That is where credit unions are poised to lead compared to other financial institutions competitors,” she said. “There are no better humans than those that work in our credit unions. With our heart and resources, credit unions can couple their innovative tech solutions with the support and empathy of our people.”


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