I just want to say this at the top: If you’ve been doing the traditional bank thing and are now itching to do something bigger, you can. These opportunities actually exist. And you don’t have to make a jump to a risky fintech in order to act on innovative ideas. Let me tell you how I did it.
I’ll start at the beginning: My first job right out of college was in banking, in product and e-commerce. I got sucked into the industry and haven’t looked back since. Later, I helped manage the digital platforms and marketing for a large, community bank’s brand new digital-only subsidiary. That’s when I migrated into more of an IT role, where I could marry my front-end with back-end experience and put the puzzle pieces together. It was that role that gave me my first taste of something I’d grow hungry for—a real boots-on-the-ground experience in a digital space that forced me to rethink traditional banking norms.
Not only was I navigating new spaces within the industry, but we were trying to fit into the digital space with a digital-first mentality while still rolling up to an organization that needed to serve customers in a traditional sense as well. There were many considerations that a solely digital bank wouldn’t have (shared technology and resources, for example), which was challenging at times. Don’t get me wrong, I loved that job, and I got to see every facet of how the bank was run. It was awesome for exposure and experience. I would even argue that a traditional bank launching a digital-only subsidiary was actually a great way to test out something new. Being able to “Try It On” there was essential to me realizing that I was looking for an adaptive workplace that could be open to new ideas.
From there, I moved to an even larger bank based out of Cincinnati—that’s where I was before I joined Quontic. I was given the awesome opportunity to lead as a product manager and implement their online account opening platform. It was my main focus for an entire year. This in-depth experience was a great way to round out my journey learning about the different areas of digital banking. I found myself ready for the next challenge.
Enter: Quontic. And the year 2020.
Firstly, you should know that I decided my goal for 2020 was to reach out to people that I thought were interesting, instead of just reading about them and moving on. Of course, as 2020 progressed, we all went remote. So networking became more emails and LinkedIn messages than anything else.
Patrick popped up on my LinkedIn feed after he won American Banker’s Digital Banker of the Year award, so I knew who he was when I stumbled across a blog he had written. Reading it, though, really struck a chord with me because he wasn’t regurgitating ideas the way many other bank blogs do—using the same buzzwords and discussing the need for the same set of platforms. Bankers have been talking about the need for P2P and mobile deposit functionality for about five years, but Patrick and Quontic weren’t doing that. They were calling out the status quo. He was also a 29-year old CIO! And I’ve never really been able to connect with people that were my age, in my industry, that wanted to talk about online account opening, for example.
It piqued my interest. So I reached out. I simply wanted to understand his story.
We connected for a while, and he wanted to know my background. More and more, I realized I had this niche experience: I’ve jumped around between IT, marketing, product management, and platform management. Of course, he encouraged me to join Quontic. But I wasn’t looking for a job, especially during COVID. I had a lot of questions, but I couldn’t ignore that Quontic’s mission completely spoke to what I was trying to accomplish.
The answers to those questions are what ultimately gave me the confidence to jump from a big, traditional bank to a smaller, new, digital bank:
I learned that Quontic’s core values start from within. Patrick and the entire team know how to have fun at work, that failure is ok, and that a good team can pivot when they need to. When they brought me on, they introduced me to the idea of beginning meetings with a “positive focus” (i.e sharing something good that’s happening in your life). It sounds silly, but it’s been instrumental in getting to know my coworkers while joining a team remotely. The transition was easier than I thought it would be, and I believe that Quontic’s culture, which has been shaped by its unique core values, made that happen.
I learned that you have to go out on a ledge to accomplish things that banks haven’t done before. At the big banks, I was starting to get really good at standard things. I felt like I was thriving, but I wasn’t. I had more muscles in my brain that I could exercise, and at Quontic I’m encouraged to do so.
I learned that Quontic’s entire stance is to be adaptive, innovative, and digital. Everyone has been brought into the mission. At other banks, I felt like I had to “make the sell” on why we should adjust something. At Quontic, challenging the status quo is the status quo.
And I learned that Quontic has this magnetic environment. People are excited about what they do here. It feels magnetic because Patrick and Quontic are focused on making banking in general better, instead of just for Quontic. Since joining, I have personally been given a few collaborative opportunities to present or share knowledge with other institutions that may benefit. This not only has been a great networking opportunity for me, but it feels good to help fuel the ecosystem. The more traditional bank model is to only interact with other institutions that are outside your footprint. But I know that for Patrick and at Quontic, any collaboration opportunity that would be meaningful is fair game.
Joining Quontic showed me what innovative culture really is, and that’s why I switched. Don’t be afraid to do the same, and reach out to me if you’re interested in learning how.
Get to know Grace Pace, here.