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COLUMBIA, S.C. – Whether it’s VP of e-business or I-branch manager, tech-savvy credit unions have all sorts of new high-tech job titles that didn’t exist a decade ago. The development of the online delivery channel has resulted in a slew of brand-new job titles, which seem to morph and develop as quickly as the technology driving the services they provide. That morphing also includes dealing with the blending of areas that once seemed to have little do with each other: member services and data processing. The experience of John Shields at Patelco Credit Union serves as an example. “When I started in a technology role at Patelco, moving from branch and lending operations, it was as manager of automation,” he says. “Then I became director of information technology, then vice president of information of technology and now senior vice president of e-business.” His titles reflect the growing importance and convergence of technology-based functions at the now $3.2 billion San Francisco-based CU. “It started with automating things around the branch itself, such as letters and cashier-check withdrawals but moved to be more member-focused, first with dial-up home banking in 1995, then Internet home banking in 1997 and then Web sites, firewalls, intrusion detection, bill payment, wireless home banking, online statements, online check images, member e-mail support and member technical support,” Shields says. As a result, Patelco now has an I-branch manager for e-mail and Internet loan requests, and an online specialist for member technical inquiries and bill pay support, Shields says, keeping most of that within the IT department. He sees the title of e-commerce manager becoming standard at credit unions. That’s the case on the other side of the country at NASA FCU in suburban Washington, where Karl Groves holds the title of e-commerce manager, a job that evolved and changed titles from its original designation as Web coordinator in the marketing department. While Groves reports to Doug Payne, the $650 million CU’s vice president of marketing, his job involves both technology delivery and member services, including working with various departments to decide on what services to offer and what third-party vendors to hire to offer them. The need to work together becomes quickly evident. “For example, say we’re looking at a new online mortgage application,” Groves says. “Tech Services may have concerns for security of member information or system compatibility. Lending may have concerns over the level and quality of information it receives, and Marketing may have concerns over the look and feel of the interface. “As e-commerce manager my job is to help ensure that the Web site and its tools fulfill the goals of all stakeholders, including the members themselves.” Nathan Schmidt’s experience at $1 billion Schools Financial Credit Union in Sacramento, Calif., reflects that, as well. “Our CEO recognized the importance of having one person in charge of the electronic service delivery channels of the credit union. My title is electronic services branch manager, and my job has evolved in an interesting fashion. At first, it was more of a project manager position. I was in charge of electronic services projects that involved coordination from the vice president of information services,” he says. “However, the credit union has evolved during the four years I have been in this position. With our new host processor from Symitar Systems, Schools and my position are now more than ever toward achieving our e-services strategic goals established in 2000.” A similar evolution also has taken place at ORNL FCU in Oak Ridge, Tenn., where Melissa McMahan serves as eBranch manager. “When this department was still on the drawing board we elected to go with eBranch as the name due to the many areas we encompassed that were similar to a branch,” McMahan says, including the $715 million CU’s contact center, card services, ACH and home banking. The evolution occurred by steps as additional functions were added, and McMahan observes: “It can create confusion in the traditional thinking of how a credit union functions. We are a department, with servicing duties to both employees and members. However, we also have member contact. Not just the traditional face-to-face; we have to strive to give good service using all the delivery channels that our members prefer, telephone, Internet chat, e-mail, etc.” In addition to the evolution of e-titles and functionality in her own credit union, McMahan sees it in the industry itself: “There seems to be numerous e-titles, branches, departments popping up and we all seemed to emerge at the same time.” Internet services manager is the title Linda Keyser holds at $1.2 billion Citizens Equity Federal Credit Union in Peoria, Ill. She says it was a title, and a job, that emerged to help the convergence of traditional and new services occur smoothly. “Our senior management identified the need to better integrate corporate Internet strategy with both our strategic and technology plans,” Keyser says. “In addition, the Internet services manager helps business managers implement e-business solutions. “The evolution of the department resulted from CEFCU’s desire to increase e-business opportunities. The department has continued to evolve as new opportunities have presented themselves.” CEFCU itself has people with the titles of chief technology officer, vice president-EFT and automated services manager, each with distinct roles, Keyser says. She also has this observation about e-titles in the credit union industry overall. “E-titles appear to be as diverse as the responsibilities associated with these positions. Titles range from director of e-strategy, director of Internet services, vice president of electronic commerce or e-business senior manager to e-business consultant or even e-biz manager. “These titles are certainly used in various industries, but no industry-wide title appears to be emerging.” Scott Patterson, e-commerce manager at Callahan & Associates, a keeper of vast stores of credit union data, is in a unique position to help sift through the large collection of titles that credit unions have given those people whose jobs are to help develop and manage the fast-growing electronic channels. “They really are a sign of the times, although the number of such positions, what the titles are and what the people do, are certainly a function of the credit union’s size and the extent of its electronic offerings,” he says. Regardless of the function, making sure the channels flow smoothly between member and credit union is what counts. Just ask Barbara Whitney, the veteran Internet manager at $2.5 billion ESL Federal Credit Union in Rochester, N.Y. “I see a lot of e-branch managers and e-services managers in the industry,” Whitney says. “My title of Internet manager might be somewhat unique, although there are others with the same title. But I do think we were among the first wave of credit unions that actually assigned a specific person to be responsible for the Internet channel. “And, I think no matter what you call the position, it generally has the same responsibility. “Whether you call the Internet channel a branch, a service or a product, the responsibility is to promote the Internet channel, making it easier for members to use and making sure that the Internet becomes just another way that the credit union touches its members.” Along with convergence of technology understanding and member-service awareness, of course, comes the need to find people who can do both, especially at credit unions, which often can’t afford to hire a phalanx of specialists. E-titles have evolved much more quickly than c-titles and placement for them often means going outside the credit union for new talent, says Karen Houston, regional vice president of Credit Union Employment Services Inc., a service of the Texas Credit Union League. “Although members still want a `brick-and-mortar’ option available, technology is the muscle behind member service,” she says. “All this has fueled the explosion of new positions and titles. “Credit unions have invested a great deal of their financial resources in technology and have come to understand that they need special expertise to manage that technology.” Meanwhile, Houston says, she is seeing the emergence of what these new titles mean and what the people holding them need to do. “As they have evolved over time, there appears to be an increased standard expectation as to the related duties and responsibilities of these positions,” she says. That doesn’t mean such jobs, especially those at smaller credit unions that involve a lot of line-crossing, will be easy to fill. As Groves, the NASA FCU e-commerce manager, puts it: “The way I view it, such a person will have a rare combination of technical knowledge and business knowledge. “At the core, though, it will be an understanding of how members interact with a Web site. A Web site’s features – its product and service offerings and the technology driving it – will mean nothing without an understanding of both e-commerce strategy and usability.” -

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