Samantha Amburgey has been with Michigan State University Federal Credit Union for 13 years, but a volunteer position with the American Red Cross was the first step in a successful journey in the field of technology.

“I was given the opportunity to do an internship in the technology support services division assisting with building webpages for American Red Cross’s intranet and generally learning about their technology systems,” said Amburgey, who now serves as chief information officer for Michigan State University Federal Credit Union.

When she took the Red Cross internship in 2007, Amburgey was working at MSUFCU as a call center specialist. At night, she took computer programming classes at Lansing Community College, and in 2009 she was promoted to eServices Manager, overseeing the team that serves members via email and live chat.

“In this role, I was able to work with our web developers to help create and evolve our digital channel solutions. Eventually I was promoted to also oversee that team and be a part of launching our custom online banking site and native mobile applications,” said Amburgey. “Now that I oversee all of information technology, the types of technology I work with have increased and are varied, but I’m still focused on people and service, and how to make the technology fit human needs.”

Changing demographics

Having been with the credit union for well over a decade, Amburgey said she is seeing more women in tech than in previous years. And while not a complete sea change – as tech remains a male-dominated field – she hopes more women will continue to join the ranks.

“The technology field is an area that can definitely benefit from more diversity, so it is great to see this shift,” she said. “Greater diversity on our teams just increases our breadth of creativity, which leads us to make solutions that are more likely meet the needs of a larger audience of members.”

The $3.76 billion East Lansing, Mich.-based MSUFCU supports 246,000 members and 18 branches. The credit union’s IT department is populated by 71 full-time employees and eight interns – a significant increase from when Amburgey was named CIO in 2014.

“The team has grown in size from 52 fulltime employees and two interns,” she said. “This is a large team when just looking at the numbers; however, we have a specific strategy focused on developing many of our technology solutions in-house where we can control the quality, security and overall experience.”

From a gender perspective, the employees breakdown to 53 males and 18 females, or eight baby boomers, 20 Gen-Xers, 42 Gen-Yers and one Gen Z.

Michigan State University Federal Credit Union CIO Samantha Amburgey, seated middle, in a brainstorming session with team members Meredith Crowl, assistant vice president of Business Solutions and helpdesk (seated left),  and Bruce Greenway, programming and core operations manager.
Michigan State University Federal Credit Union CIO Samantha Amburgey, seated middle, in a brainstorming session with team members Meredith Crowl, assistant vice president of Business Solutions and helpdesk (seated left), and Bruce Greenway, programming and core operations manager.

“There are a larger number of men, but that is not surprising since the field of information technology has been a traditionally male-dominated area,” she noted. “That is shifting as we are seeing more interest from women in our positions and internships. I think this is an important evolution for the field and I try to support events and organizations in my community that foster interest in technology careers for young girls and women.”

Technology wins

Over the course of her career with MSUFCU, Amburgey said there have been many team-driven success stories. In 2012, for example, the CU launched its own native mobile apps for iOS and Android phones. This came on the heels of launching its online banking program two years earlier.

“Those were very big projects for us and I am proud to be a part of the team that develops and maintains those services,” she said.

Since launching these initiatives, the CU has realized approximately 800,000 log-ins on its ComputerLine online banking system and over 1.3 million log-ins to its mobile apps each month.

“That’s with 63 percent of our members actively using ComputerLine and 49 percent actively using the mobile apps,” she said. “I only see these services gaining adoption as we grow and continue to add features, and it’s exciting to help lead that evolution.”

Looking forward, Amburgey is keeping a close watch on developments and disruptions from fintech companies. Additionally, she is interested in the rise of chatbots and natural language processing for service interactions.

“There are a lot of great ideas coming from this area that will help us improve services and the user experience across the financial services industry, we just have to keep up,” she said.

More stories from CU Journal's "Women in tech" series can be found here:

Women in tech: From wedding planner to CU innovation architect
Women in tech: From Silicon Valley startups to CU boardrooms
Women in tech: How an outsider is helping credit unions evolve