For our second GonzoBanker interview, we’re changing time zones and charters, going from a bank in Oklahoma to a Credit Union in San Francisco.
Name: John Shields
SVP, Chief Technology Officer
Patelco Credit Union (San Francisco, CA)
Czar of fast, clean front-line delivery systems
Undergraduate – University of California, Berkeley where he studied ancient history
(Note: John claims his attendance occurred after “Demonstration 101” was an accredited class and well after the, um, green smoke had cleared from the air, and that he actually studied. Hmmmm. Let’s just say the facts are still being checked on this claim.)
Graduate – Golden Gate Law School, and passed the California Bar Exam
Things keeping John busy:
Branch teller/new account process automation… network security… authentication… a core system platform upgrade with ancillary system upgrades… VOIP conversion (Cisco)… loan origination system re-write/upgrades… data center move. Sounds like enough.
Gonzo Claim to Fame – Customized branch delivery solutions
First, you have to understand that Patelco has a strong, strong focus on efficiency and speed/cost of delivery. That said, Patelco looked at its options for branch and loan delivery and decided that it needed to have the look/feel, customization and screen flow that newer, browser-based systems offer without losing one iota of the speed and response time that traditional green screen systems were so famous for (even if they were famous for nothing else). Not liking any options it saw, the credit union designed its own GUI front end. The nice touch in all of this is that it also went after the automation of those tasks that were considered the most time-consuming and automated them. A few examples:
This is being accomplished with a development staff of 3.0 FTE. By John’s estimate, the teller functionality took 1.5 programmers six months to get to live deployment, and the loan functionality and integration will take 1.5 programmers 12 months.
The net result? Patelco branch and loan staff are well above the median performer in every retail delivery category we track in The Cornerstone Report. Oh, you might not see heavy duty sales/CRM capabilities in their offices, but that’s not the big focus Patelco chose.
John’s keys to success in the retail delivery area:
“Stay focused on the real needs of the users and don’t compromise on them. Manage and avoid unnecessary scope creep.”
“Recognize that developed code has a useful life, and don’t let pride of authorship get in the way of putting in something that might be better.”
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
“I’d involve the end users earlier, not only because it helps with design but also because it makes them think of it as their system.” (Fortunately for John, Patelco users are pretty vocal about what they want anyway.)
Shout out to other team members who made the project successful:
Anthony Vitale, Development Manager, for his great design and delivery. Rebecca Nicolay, VP of Consumer Lending, for her involvement, guidance and enthusiasm
John’s claim to fame outside of the office:
John has three kids under the age of 10, and he says anybody who has been in his shoes will understand that this basically eliminates the possibility of anything happening outside the office (other than coaching baseball, coaching soccer, and volunteering at their schools).
John loves to read, loves music and – rare for 2007 – doesn’t own a television. Our interpretation: the Shields family is spending a lot of Quality Time together.
Historical note – as a younger man, John traveled across Russia on the Orient Express.
John’s favorite movie of all time:
Star Wars Episode 4 (the original — before they remastered and added the digitized part where Han Solo shot back in the bar)
John’s most underrated rock and roll album of all time:
The Police, “Ghost in the Machine.” Apparently, being rated 322 in Rolling Stone’s “Top 500 Albums of All Time” wasn’t enough for John, who says he listens to it all the time.
Thumbs up to John and his team. GonzoBanker salutes you.
Keep building for speed, John!