Opening the doors to more women in STEM fields

Four years ago I read Gloria Feldt’s No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change the Way We Think About Power and it changed my career. It taught me about the ways in which our ancestors fought to open doors—both professionally and personally—for women in our nation and yet many of us do not take advantage of these opportunities. Yet, statistics show that today women only make up 24 percent of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) workforce in the U.S. I am proud to be a small representative of it, and am happy that my company continues holding open the doors that Feldt discussed.

At Q2, women compose almost half of the User Experience Design team – with numbers increasing in development, QA and C-level positions. So, I cannot help but wonder: Why aren’t more women stepping through the doors of innovative companies like Q2?

While I can’t answer this question with certainty, I would like to present reasons for businesses and employees alike to take notice.

Business Advantages in Hiring Women

1.  Improvement of complex decision-making: Diversity of all kinds increases the chances that complex decisions will be made correctly. Certainly those of us working in STEM fields face a number of complex decisions every day.

2.  Competitive talent: To remain competitive with other businesses in these fields, and for the U.S. to remain a viable member of the global economy, we must support the caliber of employees in STEM roles. An obvious and largely untapped talent pool is young women, who in 2013 were 21 percent more likely than men to graduate with a bachelor’s degree, and account for almost half of all students in MBA and MD programs.

3.  Greater innovation: Different points of view generate fresh ideas—that’s just common sense. And isn’t innovation what technology is all about? It’s worthwhile to note that few women contributed to the first design of the airbag, resulting in airbags that were well-suited to protect men’s bodies, but failed to adequately protect women and children.

4.  Stronger market strategies: It may be old news that, with their increased purchasing power, women are responsible for the majority of household buys. But this applies to technology consumption as well. A study performed by OgilvyAction showed that women significantly outpaced men in their usage of mobile apps related to health, entertainment, lifestyle, social networking and gaming. A fair representation of women in technology companies could help us identify with and better serve this growing consumer base.

5.  Profitability: Last, but certainly not least, companies with the highest representation of women in senior management delivered 53 percent higher return on equity and 42 percent higher return on sales than those with the lowest numbers of female senior managers. That kind of difference in the bottom line is difficult to ignore.

Both men and women can bring awareness to this growing need of women in the workforce, not just STEM fields. Here are ways in which you can make a difference in your industry.

How to Make a Difference

1. Share knowledge of job openings with a smart woman in your network.

2. Offer to review a friend’s resume.

3. Encourage female coworkers to attend empowering seminars with you.

4. Suggest that experienced female employees adopt younger female mentees.

5. Expose these formerly unconventional fields to your daughter, niece, or other young women in your family at early ages.

It is up to us to understand the need for women in STEM fields. Acknowledging your power to incite change in these areas could alter the future of our businesses.

Our Shared Responsibility: Q2 Honors National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security, National Cyber Security Awareness Month celebrated its 11th year this October. Each year, this month serves as an opportunity for not only Security professionals, but also consumers, small and medium sized businesses, corporations, and financial institutions to spread awareness and share information about Cyber Security.

The theme of National Cyber Security Awareness Month for 2014 was “Our Shared Responsibility.” As we’re constantly connected to the internet, our risk of exposure to theft, fraud, and abuse is significant. Cyber Security attacks can affect our finances, identity, and privacy making it an important national security priority.

Throughout the month, Q2 presented a weekly series of Security presentations with the goal of educating its employees of not only the risks and threats the Security team sees on a daily basis, but also countermeasures they can use to protect themselves and the company. Topics such as how to recognize social engineering attempts, information about security threats such as Heartbleed and POODLE, and a demonstration of common hacking techniques were presented to Q2 employees to increase awareness of Cyber Security protection.

By the end of the month, the Q2 Security team recognized a notable increase in the awareness of Cyber Security amongst coworkers. Employees are actively reporting suspicious emails and seeking out the Security team for advice about personal Cyber Security. By opening a dialogue with our employees about the importance of Cyber Security, Q2 is helping to protect our customers, our employees, and our company.

Cyber Security awareness doesn’t end in October. We encourage you to make security-minded thinking a part of your day-to-day routine. Talk to your account holders and employees about Cyber Security awareness and security basics. Education and information are the first steps in combatting Cyber Security threats. If you have questions about Q2’s Cyber Security recommendations and best practices, please feel free to reach out to the Q2 Security team by contacting Jean Twaddell at jean.twaddell@q2ebanking.com.

Choose Your Partners Wisely

The tendency for humans to try and do everything themselves is as old as time. Whether it stems from a desire to reap all the glory, a lack of trust in others, or simply a failure to consider asking for help, it’s been the downfall of many. In the words of Inspector Harry Callahan, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

At Q2, we create great software – that’s our forte – in the form of a virtual banking platform that strengthens communities by strengthening the financial institutions that serve them. We do not build ATMs, design firewalls, provide core processing, erect data centers, or do a slew of other things around which entire companies are built. For these reasons, choosing the right partners is critical to our success – and yours. As Lou Senko, Q2’s Vice President of Information Technology says, “We like to think of our trusted partners as part of the magic that happens behind the scenes. Their technology is a key foundation to some of Q2’s future capabilities underneath our product offerings.”

EMC is one such trusted partners for us. Who do you consider your key partners? Tweet them some appreciation and include #Q2partners.

Are We There Yet?

Well, the Marketing Kings of the Universe have done it again – pushed much of the world into a tizzy. Picture it… CEOs texting their charges at dark-thirty in the morning asking, “what are your plans”; relationship managers and customer service reps checking their email every five seconds to see if their talking points have arrived; product development folks wiggin’ out in a frantic we-must-get-our-hands-on-the-SDK-or-die fervor; and citizens of the world buying up every last one of the Cliff Bars and Vitamin Waters in preparation for their strip-mall-sidewalk camp outs!!

You probably guessed what I’m talking about. Apple’s BIG iOS 8 and iPhone 6 release. As with Michael Jordan in the waning seconds of a game, the weather in Seattle, or the dysfunction in Washington, the question remains: Really, this, again? And not only again, but touted as being ‘bigger than ever’?! Truly, you know it’s a big deal when an eleven-year-old girl who has spoken of her “first phone” since about age five says, “Dad, I know you and mom would get me the iPhone 5 for my birthday, but I’d rather wait a month and get the iPhone 6.” Let’s not even address how the armor-hewn shroud of secrecy surrounding the Announcement Event has fed the hysteria.

Hyperbole aside – it is a big deal, especially the iOS 8 release. Here’s why. The ripple effect of Apple’s forthcoming operating system will affect a wide swath of humanity. Developers really do need to know what impact these advancements will have on their apps; companies whose customers rely on these apps really do need to know how their end users might be impacted; and customer service reps who support the users of said apps really do need to know how to answer questions around them. Preparation is indeed in order.

At Q2, we’ve been diligently preparing and anxiously waiting along with the rest of the world, trying as best we can to put ourselves in the shoes of our customers, and our customers’ customers. I’d venture to say these preparatory efforts have touched every corner of our company – from the CEO down. I’d also venture to say – at great risk I realize – that we’re as prepared as we can be. We’ve studied the impact from every conceivable angle, considered all potential participants, and reflected ad nauseam on the lessons learned from the iOS 7 release.

We also know that we can’t possibly account for every conceivable variable under the sun—and  we are in good company. In August 2010, Microsoft released 14 security patches in one day, to address 34 vulnerabilities. And in 2005, Oracle released 88 patches for security vulnerabilities over a four month period – that’s 22 a month! The point being, it ain’t easy. You can have 128,000 employees and more resources than Solomon and still not get things right.

But, we have a great advantage. Armed with a virtual banking platform intentionally constructed to accommodate change, and the knowledge that, even in a worst case scenario, no lives will be lost, we have confidently awaited the big day. That being said, we apologize in advance to the Inupiaq fisherman with no thumbs for the slow load times in the Beaufort Sea and maybe the placement of the navigation buttons on the ATM locator page. Glitches aside, we are ready and see this as another opportunity—one that may transcend any product release—to prove our commitment to partnership.

Chalkboards, Cupcakes, and the Soul of Design – Part II

While HOW Design Live conferences certainly inspire, they also teach. Featuring some of the best minds in the business, HOW learning sessions provide attendees with knowledge and information they can actually take home and apply – practical application stuff, which benefits attendees’ businesses and improves their individual performance. That’s certainly what I’m counting on, anyway.

What follows is a summary of the sessions I attended, the cumulative effect of which, serves as a list of the ingredients that comprise an effective design process. Specifically, things that any company having anything to do with creative design would do well to employ. Implementing, and adhering to, the principles below can mean the difference between good and great results. Not to mention, significantly reduce the screaming and hair pulling.

Hamish Campbell, Creative Director at Pearlfisher, and David Hartman, Associate Creative Director at Target, provided a glimpse into the design process of top-tier firms, starting at the very beginning of the process – long before any creating ordesigning has begun. In their opinion, an effective process begins with trust; without it, you’re in trouble. Sharing a meal together, they told the audience, is a great way to kick-off a project, as it breaks down the “professional” barriers and facilitates personal connections, thus sowing seeds of trust.

They discussed at length the collaboration between Target and Pearlfisher, and how human beings engaging one another is at the heart of effective design. Which I was delighted to hear, as their emphasis on human engagement not only validated what I’d been taught way back when, but also confirmed that it’s a belief shared by some of the best companies in America. By traveling to farmers markets together, conversing intimately, and sharing lots of meals together, Pearlfisher was able to create an engaging and relevant brand that connects with Target consumers: Simply Balanced.

Trust, however, is just the essential first ingredient of an effective design process. It’s the aggregate of ingredients that determines whether your design process is truly effective. In a session led by AtTask’s, David Lesue, I was reminded that the mere word process, seriously conflicts with most creative folks’ DNA; instinctually, we despise it.  As such, David encouraged us to think of process as our frienemy – part friend, part enemy – who helps eliminate unnecessary work, which degrades quality and elongates design cycles, as well as enables us to focus on the design work at hand.  An effective design process, as David explained it, includes the following ingredients.

1.) A formal/standardized work-request process. Require design briefs for everyproject. If there is no brief, there is no work request. This reduces whim, random one-off, and rogue project requests, as it requires requesters to think through what it is they’re requesting, and whether they really need it.

2.) A projects dashboard. Projects should be displayed publically, either electronically or physically – both is preferable. Build a backlog, slot the work on a weekly basis, and display the schedule for all to see. This creates accountability, indicates priorities, and helps keep folks on task.

3.) Central repositories. When designers have to corral all of the information required to complete a job, they lose creative time and their flow is impeded – interruptions kill flow. A good creative brief is crucial, but keeping everything together – research, notes, communications, sketches, files, etc. – is equally important, as it significantly reduces interruptions and enables designers to focus on their design work.

4.) Templates. Create templates for job types that occur on a regular basis, and update them over time. Doing this will greatly improve efficiency, and also lead to consistent, quality output. It will also enable new hires, or those who are new to the process, to get up and running faster.

5.) Collaborate in a consistent fashion. Standard creative briefs is one example, but brainstorming sessions, project kick-off meetings, delivery of assets, and the manner in which they’re conducted and communicated, should also be standardized. Operating in this manner will further reduce misunderstandings and unnecessary work, improve efficiency, and also enable newcomers to get up and running faster.

Quality creative work takes time, and lots of it – something many executives don’t want to hear. In a culture obsessed with speed and “turn-around times,” design work often suffers. Unfortunately, there is no shortcut to great creative work. The best way to improve creative work is to spend more time on it, and by incorporating the ingredients listed above, your designers will be able to do just that – spend more time creating.

Chalkboards, Cupcakes, and the Soul of Design

Recently I traveled to Boston to attend HOW Design Live 2014, which in the words of its organizers is, “…the biggest annual gathering of creative professionals, anywhere.” At the conference I heard many inspirational speakers, learned about the new Adobe Creative Cloud software and design process, and grew my understanding of how to build and lead an amazing, creative team.

The conference was loaded with heavy-hitting keynote speakers, three of whom I personally connected with, and whose stories I thought I’d share. Their stories shared a common thread: follow your dream and engage with art outside of technology. I hope you find their stories as inspiring as I did.

Dana Tanamachi-Williams is a self-taught designer from Texas, best known for starting the chalkboard typography craze in America. Think Starbucks chalkboard menus. While working as a designer in New York, Dana began drawing frames and typography on her friend’s chalkboard wall in her spare time. Her creations were so unique that friends began snapping pictures of themselves in front of them, which they then posted on Facebook.

She soon had an extensive portfolio of unique artwork and typography online which, thanks to social media, landed her a job with Louise Fili Ltd., a prominent NYC graphic design firm. She continued to pursue her true passion: creating unique and engaging typography. Her day job funded the pursuit of her dream, and her anonymity allowed her to take risks and make mistakes. Eventually she was able to start her own business and devote herself full-time to her passion. Dana’s story reminded me of two very important things: stay true to your dream and continue to hone your non-computer based, “hand” skills.

Next is Bob Gill, an iconic American illustrator and graphic designer. Bob is one of the founders of Fletcher/Forbes/Gill design studio, precursor to the present-day megalith, Pentagram, one of the largest and most successful design firms in America. Inspirational and unforgettable, Bob stood on the stage and told the crowd, “You all suck. You are not designers. What is wrong with you? Sitting there behind your computers, hiding behind technology!”

Not only was he hilarious, but quite frank. I loved his perspective: in order to achieve great design, you must live in the shoes of your client. “If you need to create a logo for a dry cleaner, what do you do: sketch, wordlist, mood board? No, you go to the dry cleaner and you sit there. What do you do? I don’t know, but you sit there, you talk to people, you learn about the process, you smell the smells, you experience first person the soul of dry cleaning. You do this until you have an idea. Great design doesn’t have a timeline.”

Bob also spoke of how what you stand for attracts the clients you desire. If someone doesn’t agree with your process, or your ideas, it’s ok to let them go- that’s conviction. If they don’t like what you bring to the table, then they don’t trust your expertise, which makes them a poor fit. Bob’s keynote inspired me to get back to basics – to search for the root of the problem I’m trying to solve, not the solution to a perceived problem.

Lastly, there was Johnny Earle, a.k.a., Johnny Cupcakes. A self-made millionaire by 26, Johnny is the founder of one of the fastest growing and most iconic brands in America. After dropping out of college, Johnny began touring with his death-metal band, while peddling t-shirts from a raggedy suitcase on the side. Selling under his nickname, Johnny Cupcakes, his t-shirts featured a cupcake and crossbones logo, along with a silly expression or funny design. It wasn’t long before Spencer’s, Target, and other big-box retailers came calling.

Opting not to sell out to the “big boys,” who would likely dilute his brand, he opened his first retail store. His bakery-themed store skyrocketed his sales and brand recognition. Going to great lengths to control every aspect of his brand experience, Johnny hangs vanilla air fresheners in his stores to evoke the smell of a bakery, and packs his t-shirts in rolling pin containers. Basic packaging or cheaper display cases would have saved him money, but it was the vintage bakery displays and rolling pin packaging that fueled his success and cemented his brand.

Dana, Bob, and Johnny confirm that doing what you love and demanding the highest quality of work pays off. Love covers a multitude of sins, as does having a passion for what you do. And cutting corners only results in a weaker vision and negatively impacts your brand. The moral of these stories: follow your passion, and invest in quality design and experience…no matter the cost.

Platforms vs. point solutions in virtual banking

Lately, “gamification” has been a popular topic in software and process design. I’ve quoted it here because it is a made up word from the business community and not a real word that actual people use. Nonetheless, the idea is compelling: using the natural human desire for competition, achievement, differentiation of status, and positive feedback to craft desired results. We have a lot of discussions at Q2 about the best way to acquire development talent, and we decided in our last recruiting push that using actual games might be interesting. To do this we created a scenario for applicants to our entry level developer program to compete in teams using Lego bricks to build product concepts and prototypes. The results were informative, and the activity broke the traditional (boring and low-value) mold of predictable one-on-one interviewing. Changing the way we thought about evaluating talent made our employees much more attentive to non-verbal behavior in the interview setting as well, giving us much deeper insight into potential employee fit and comfort level with the unexpected challenges of the exercise.

For other ways Q2 uses Lego bricks in thinking about software platforms, see a recent article I contributed to in CU Insight.

A Quick Glance at 2012

This past year was a great one for Q2ebanking. All the wonderful employees, partners and clients that we work with made 2012 a rousing success. We truly value all of these relationships and want to thank you! With that, we wanted to share a few key events from the past year.

This was the first year for the Q2 webinar series, and it was a great success! We had 18 webinars with 25 webinar sessions offered, which more than 180 different financial institutions attended. During the coming year, we will offer even more webinar topics. For more information on webinars offered, email q2webinars@q2ebanking.com.

You may have also noticed our updated website. We were excited to roll out a new website that is continually updated with new products and services, events we will be attending in 2013, and more!

Throughout the year, we really enjoyed taking our message on the road all over the country to about 45 conferences and tradeshows including BAI Retail Delivery, CUNA GAC, ABA, ICBA, NACHA Payments and more. Look for us at conferences and tradeshows this year. You can find where we will be on our website here.

In April we had our Q2ebanking Annual Client Conference, which saw record attendance including over 30 newly joined financial institutions. If you are a Q2ebanking client interested in attending the 2013 Q2ebanking Annual Client Conference, you can find more information here.

Not to brag, but we had another award-winning year. For the third year running, Inc. included Q2ebanking in its list of the top 500|5000 companies. In 2012 we were ranked number 790 in fastest-growing private companies in America. We also received a Top Workplaces award for the second year in a row — Austin American Statesman ranked Q2ebanking as the Number 2 Top Workplace among midsize companies in our hometown of Austin, Texas.

If you haven’t had the chance to experience the culture of Q2ebanking, we’d like to share a couple of things about what makes us unique and a great company to work with. The Q2 Cares committee and the Green committee were a new addition this year. The Q2 Cares committee encourages Q2ebanking employees to get involved in the community, by helping with events such as our Annual Employee Charity Golf Tournament. Over the past 3 years the golf tournament has raised $16,500 in donations to different charities such as MDA Austin and Breast Cancer Resource Center of Texas.

To support our growth in the ebanking industry, in July we expanded into Atlanta, GA. Check out the blog post by Q2ebanking’s VP of People and Places to learn more about our expansion in Atlanta.The Green committee has played a key role in recycling at the office. No more feeling bad about printing that extra piece of paper! With recycling bins all over the building we are able to recycle paper, glass, plastic and even batteries.

In October, we introduced a new product, Q2clarity. It’s a customizable dashboard that provides reports about all your ebanking channels. If you’re an executive, it’s the perfect solution to getting the data you want on your FI’s ebanking key performance indicators.

Last but not least, we started the Q2 Blog about mid-year. We hope that you have found it informational and useful. Please subscribe to get the latest updates! Also, make sure to connect with us through Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and evenGoogle + for updates when new blogs are posted and more.

As you can tell, 2012 was a busy year for us. We are looking forward to what 2013 has in store.

Boring Tradeshow Conferences Have Evolved – Have You?

Four Mobile Tool Tips to Improve Your Tradeshow or Conference Experience

Tradeshow season is upon us. Freezing cold meeting rooms. Confusing hotel layouts. Too many new names and faces to remember. Messy handwritten notes on cocktail napkins. Bulky brochures. These are some of the things that may make you dread attending that upcoming tradeshow or industry conference. But if it’s been a while since you last donned an oh-so-flattering conference lanyard, you should know that event planners are leveraging cool new technology for mobile devices to help make your tradeshow experience more engaging, valuable and fun. Here are four mobile tools you should be using when you check in at your next convention center:

1. Download the Event Mobile App. It’s easy.

When you register, ask the event planner if they offer a conference mobile app. Many conferences are now partnering with providers such as Guidebook andCrowdCompass to offer their attendees the most up-to-date agenda, venue maps, speaker bios, exhibit hall info and more, all from your mobile device. Some apps allow you to customize your trade show schedule to help keep you organized and on track; others offer social media integration for quick postings. Forgoing the traditional conference program for a sleek e-agenda is better for the environment, too.

2. A Business Card Reader is Your New Best Friend.

Rather than stuffing countless business cards into your carry-on, only to lose them later in the black hole of your desk drawer, download a phone or tablet application that allows you to quickly collect and exchange contact information with your new networking buddies. Most apps have sophisticated text recognition for accuracy when scanning and work with popular CRM software. Check out apps such as LinkedIn’s CardMunch, Shape or Bump which also has photo sharing and chat functionality.

3. Note-Take Like a Pro.

Look around almost any meeting room today and you’ll see your prospects, clients and coworkers using a tablet. A conference session is no different. Tablets are lighter weight and less cumbersome than laptops, and get comparatively better battery life, which makes them a favorite for travelers. Tablets also enable you to browse convention materials and make notes silently during a session, without the little pitter-patter of keyboard strokes. Preparing post-trade show notes for your boss to justify your trip is a must, so why not make it more fun and easy with a tablet app? Functionality and pricing vary based on your preferences, but check out NoteTaker HD or Penultimate as examples.

4. Don’t Forget Your Quick Response Code Reader.

Originally designed for automotive industry use, Quick Repsonse (Or QR) codes can be scanned by numerous reader apps that are readily available for download.i-nigma and OptiScan even allow you to create your own QR codes. Advertisers have been using QR codes on signage to direct prospects to website landing pages or special online deals. Now, tradeshow and event planners have repurposed the matrix bar code functionality as a way to share presentation materials and execute electronic raffles with their meeting attendees. Ask exhibit hall vendors if they offer electronic product brochures via QR code rather than bulky trifolds.

All of these mobile tools were designed to save you time, keep you more organized, and make your conference experience more engaging. That way, you can spend your tradeshow time focused on making valuable new connections and brushing up on your product and industry knowledge. However, until there is an app fix that heats cold meeting rooms, you should still plan to pack a sweater or two…

If you ever wonder where the Q2ebanking team is, you can find a list of tradeshows and conferences we are attending here.

New Office Opening in Atlanta

It takes a great team to build a great company.

Q2ebanking is known for the way we’ve re-defined the e-banking experience for our customers and the financial services industry. Because our platform has the most modern design and technology in the industry we have been able to grow our customer base and organization. We are proud of our Austin, TX roots and our employees.

As we grow we are constantly seeking new talent to join the organization. We regularly survey the environment to make sure we are anticipating emerging trends in market research, customer desires, new applications, etc. And when you line those things up…all signs pointed to expanding from our Austin location and opening an office in Atlanta!

As we started to consider opening an office in  Atlanta, we were overwhelmed by the wealth  of talent available there. There are so many  outstanding educational institutions, from  Georgia Institute of Technology to Morehouse  to Emory. The more we saw of Atlanta, the  longer the list of positive attributes became  and the more we wanted to open an office  there. We are excited to start forming  relationships within those educational  institutions and with the larger Atlanta /  financial services community.

Q2ebanking is looking for hard working people looking to make a difference and who are invigorated by challenges; have a passion for technology; and who are devoted to helping customers. Our jobs range from developer positions, to the industry’s best customer support team; to implementation engineers; web developers; etc.

Everyone we met in Atlanta was enthusiastic and conveyed a real sense of community and dedication. That’s when we knew it was the place for us to be.

Our office opens in early September. We’re looking forward to becoming part of the fabric of Atlanta.

I can’t wait to get there and spend time with the new team!

I invite you to visit our Careers Site.

As Vice President of People and Places for Q2ebanking, Sherri Manning is responsible for Q2’s organizational development, employee acquisition, retention, compensation planning, benefits and facilities functions. Prior to joining Q2, Ms. Manning held executive management roles with multiple Fortune 500 companies including Dell, IBM and Colgate Palmolive. Her public service work includes roles as a Senior Staff Analyst for the Oklahoma Senate and a legal/legislative internship with the International Labor Rights, Education & Research Fund in Washington, D.C. Her professional memberships include: the Society of Human Resource Professionals and the Oklahoma & Missouri Bar Associations.