Cassaundra McKown Federal Reserve Bank of KC - A Great Place To Be!

Cassaundra McKown
Assistant Vice President
Automatic Summary

Welcome to Bank of Kansas City

First of all, let me express my joy at the portion of your time you have decided to spend in getting to know our Bank, its rich traditions, and the people and culture that make it a unique place to work.

My name is Cassandra McCowen, a committed and determined leader in the financial industry with a specialization in application development and support with over 25 years - including time spent at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

Mission and Principles

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City is part of the 12 Regional Reserve Banks that, along with the Board of Governors in Washington D.C., constitute our nation's central bank. Since we represent a large and diverse region spanning seven states, we rely heavily on our three branch offices - Denver, Oklahoma City and Omaha- to help stay in touch with our diverse district.

Guided by the Board of Governors to fulfill the responsibilities given to the Federal Reserve by the Federal Reserve Act, we take seriously our role in supporting economic and financial stability. Moreover, it's our responsibility to ensure that the banks treat customers fairly, payments are handled securely and efficiently, and that the voices of our region are represented in national monetary policy deliberations.

Innovation-focused Information Technology

We, at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, firmly believe that the future is digital. Information technology, although not the first thing that comes to mind about a bank, is a key part of what we do. Our strong IT presence encourages active technological growth and opens up various opportunities. Our IT professionals include enterprise or solution architects, UX strategist and designers, software engineers, customer relations, and support, data scientists, analysts and cybersecurity professionals.

And to ensure continuous growth in our technical teams, we have created guilds and communities of practice aimed at improving technical skills and encouraging innovative thinking. A prime example is the Tech Edge initiative that offers entry-level talent opportunities to explore different roles over a 6 to 9 month period, aligning their strengths and passions before settling on a career track.

A Company Culture That Sets Us Apart

As a company, we take pride in sticking to the values that make us who we are. Over the years, we have strived to foster a workplace environment of inclusion and belonging and serve our public and fellow employees with utmost dedication. Our significant investments in our people have resulted in opportunities for upskilling, job shadowing, rotational assignments, and even career changes across the District and System.

Community Involvement

We believe that community involvement is an integral part of building a strong institution. We get involved in numerous community projects such as volunteering for the Ronald McDonald House and the creation of back-to-school and clothing drives.
One of our proud community efforts is the annual Girls in Tech event that encourages girls' interest in STEM careers. Another significant project has been the Kansas City Fed's Employer Laptop Challenge which led to a donation of over 5000 laptops to nonprofit schools and refurnishing organizations in our district.

Join the Conversation!

So, as we learn more about you and your expectations of us, we encourage you to share with us the values most relevant to your journey and the prospective employer aspects you consider crucial in making your next move. Please, drop your comments in our chat box and let us hear your opinion!

Thank you for taking the time to get to know the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and our dedication to our mission, our people, and our community - it's this central focus that makes us stand out from the crowd!

Video Transcription

Bank of Kansas City. I am glad that you are here and I look forward to sharing some information about our bank and our great culture today. So just as a reminder, I will leave time for questions.At the end, I do encourage you to drop your questions in the chat and we will get to as many of those as possible during our Q and A at the end of the session today. So let's get started. Um My name is Cassandra mccowen. I have been a leader in the financial industry for 25 plus years in application development and support. I thrive in changing environments where I have a passion for being a change agent and really love to lead my teams through change. The innovation and exciting work at the Federal Reserve was what really drew me to this organization. I have been with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City since 2019, affording me a few months of in-person time before we were sent home for remote work in March of 2020. So what brought me to the bank? Um I was not actually looking for a career change when this opportunity presented itself to me. However, the more I learned about the bank, its culture and its direction and technology and really its relentless commitment to their people. I really wanted to learn more.

Uh Once I made a decision to move forward with an interview, I still wasn't sure that the time was really right for me to move, but I knew it wouldn't hurt to learn a bit more about what the bank had to offer throughout the interview process. And I continued to further research the bank and really the senior leadership to better understand the makeup of our executive leadership team. And to my surprise, I learned that out of 12 executive leaders, uh nine of them were women. What you know, that couldn't be right, could it?

Um that ratio was just something that I was not accustomed to, but it definitely jumped out to me and kind of gave me a little excitement about what the bank might have to offer me in my own career. And while that was an impressive start to me, I still had my doubts about a move at, at actually, at this point in my career, I also questioned a bit. Would the bank be able to offer me strong technical opportunities and growth? Uh because let's be honest, a technology shop probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you consider the Federal Reserve Bank. So I did not readily accept the offer that was given to me however much to my surprise, the cio of our division at the time, reached out to offer to share his experiences with a mid career move to the bank and really just discuss what the bank really had to offer, especially from a technology front.

This conversation was actually driven by those on the team who felt strongly that I was a right fit for the organization that was impressive to me that he would take his time to invest in the future of the organization. And that gesture really sealed the deal for me as it was clear that the bank truly focused on their people and that their senior leadership put trust in those reporting to them and was willing to support them in any way they can. And to me from a culture perspective that was important and um was definitely something that, that really helped me make that decision. So my three plus years um at the bank have been very rewarding and I'm excited to be here today, sharing my experiences and providing you just a little glimpse into what is the Federal Reserve Bank. And so um let's, I do want to um see as I begin to share more about the bank and our mission and values. I would love to hear from you in the chat and maybe learn a little bit about what do you value most about your company? Culture and um what do you look for? Maybe in a prospective employer. What really resonates with you. I love to hear ideas and thoughts from others about what really excites you about the, the culture in your own companies. So feel free to drop those in.

So let's talk about our mission and value um that we hold as really clear anchors in our culture. So who are we? Um The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City is one of 12 Regional Reserve Banks that along with the Board of Governors in Washington DC, make up our nation's central Bank. We work in the public's interest by supporting economic and physical or financial stability. Um We often get confused.

Are we a government agency? Are we not a government agency? However, we're, the Federal Reserve itself is not a government agency, but we are um guided by our Board of Governors and that guide our operation of the Federal Reserve System. They promote the goals and fulfill the responsibilities given to the Federal Reserve by the Federal Reserve Act. So all of the members of our board serve on the Federal Open Market Committee or the FO MC, which is the body within the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policies.

So the board of governors is run by seven members or governors who are nominated by the president of the United States and confirmed in their position by the US Senate. Each member of the board of Governors is appointed a 14 year term and those are staggered So that one term expires on January 31st of each even numbered year. So there are government oversight and um provide us kind of guide us in our direction. It is our responsibility um to as the reserve banks to ensure that the banks within our district are well run and they treat our customers fairly. Um Payments are handled safely and efficiently and then that the interests of our region are actually represented in the National Monetary Policy deliberations. So it's our responsibility to make sure the voices of our region are actually brought into deliberations and that we're advocating on behalf of the communities that we serve. We have 2000 plus employees at the Kansas City fed, working in monetary policy which promotes financial stability and sustainable economic growth.

Banking supervision which provides supervisory and regulatory oversight to financial institutions, payments and public engagement, promoting a safe and efficient payment mechanism, providing high quality innovative financial services to depository institutions, the US Treasury and the public at large, as well as we have supporting areas including information technology, financial management and administrative services.

So information technology is an area that I think people don't always tie to the Federal Reserve Bank. And this is really a big part of what we do um at the bank. However, our it focus is not something that is well known. And let's be honest, it's probably not the first thought that comes to mind when you think of a bank. We are working to change that image as we do have strong technology growth and opportunities, especially in Kansas City where we have a very strong it presence that we're quite proud of. Um We will talk a little bit more um here in a few slides about um what are the technology roles and some tech growth um that's afforded within our organization here in a few minutes. But our Kansas City uh branch actually is the 10th Federal Reserve district which includes Western Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado and Northern New Mexico. In order to support our region is that's a fairly large widespread region. We actually have three branches across our district that help us help support our mission. We have our Denver branch which serves Colorado Wyoming and Northern New Mexico's connection to the Nation's Central Bank. Our Oklahoma branch serves the state of Oklahoma in research bank examination and public outreach.

And then of course, we have our Omaha branch which is Nebraska's connection to the Nation's Central Bank. The mission and purpose is so important part of really feeling connected to the bank. It gives our associates a sense of pride in what we do and really drives us to do our very best work. We know how important the work we do is not only to our bank and our region, but more importantly to our country. I'm, I'm seeing that we're maybe having some speaker issues. So, Marge, I don't know, can you confirm that you're actually hearing me?

Yes, I'm hearing you. I'm hearing. Ok. Excellent.

Ok. That might be a one off. So,

all right, I hear you.

Very good. Thank you. Wanted to make sure that we were coming through for everyone. Yeah, so um so yeah, let's um look at, I want to dive a little deeper into our beliefs and values as their pillars, really to our success at the bank. Um Our employees rank career opportunities, people and benefits as the top three reasons why they stay. Um Are these values are held in high regard at the bank? We are accountable to our highest um our highest uh ethical standards ensuring we work with a sense of integrity. Uh We have a workplace of inclusion and belonging working to ensure like regardless of your background that you feel like you belong and have a seat at the table, we explore and act on new ways to add value. We innovate by embracing really a growth mindset. Uh We challenge conventional thinking and testing ideas to solve real world business problems. Innovation is our key to continued growth and how we ensure that we keep our employees engaged and empower them to bring forward innovative ideas and get them implemented. That's what helps our people feel really a part of our organization. They're able to bring their great ideas to the table. We serve our public and each other as we carry out our mission. And really our commitment to service is paramount to our overall mission to serve those that we represent in our district.

But most importantly, I think is our investment in our people, providing opportunities to upskill job shadow, rotational opportunities and even career changes across the 10th district in the system. I love that we afford our people the opportunity to explore career changes if they're interested, such as I've seen business partners who have developed a passion for technology and developed their own technical skills. And we've provided them opportunities to transition into technology roles or technologist who have a passion to transition to human resources. Just to name a few, these values reflect how we work together and they really are. Our north star leaders hold themselves to a high standard and we are deeply invested in making our workplace culture strong. I believe that it does start at the top. We all have to do this by modeling the way and showing these values just in our actions every day. And by doing this, I think we weave these values into the fabric of our organization which truly sets us apart from others. As I mentioned early in like some of my opening comments, um the discussion about my journey to the bank around women leadership at the bank that I thought was so impressive and really um helped me to evaluate the bank as an opportunity to further my career.

So what do those numbers really look like for us, we have approximately 2200 total associates across our district. 936 of all associates are women. That's 43 approximately 43% of our workforce. 736 of those women actually hold leadership positions, whether executive or mid-level leaders or are in professional careers.

Those careers include analysts, economists, examiners and it professionals and 61.5% of our executives and our senior most level officials are women. That's a an incredible number. And we're excited to share that. We just recently learned that our bank recently received the top score on an international measure of gender equity in leadership among all central banks globally. So according to the official monetary and financial institutions forum in the 2023 Gender balance index just released this April of this year that the Kansas City fed scored 96 out of 100 placing us number one on the measure. So what does that mean? Actually that out of 100 and 86 central banks around the world assessed by the institution, the Kansas City fed claimed the top spot this year. Demonstrating the bank's leadership is the closest to 5050 equal representation between men and women among all institutions measured by OMFIF.

Um This really is something that sets us apart and we're quite proud of where we've come there. As I mentioned, our I two organization is really a thriving innova innovative division of the Federal Reserve. And we afford our staff many opportunities to develop and demonstrate their technical skills.

We have a wide variety of technical roles available at the bank ranging from enterprise or solution architects who serve both our district and across the system. At large, we have UX strategist and designers, software engineers with a variety of focus be it Java Cloud integration engineers, site reliability uh or test automation engineers, as well as customer relations and support, data scientist and analyst, driving our machine learning and A I efforts forward.

And of course a high need for cybersecurity and within our organization. And we are very proud of our I two organization, not only at the bank level but our ability to, to affect across the system. And a key value that that I shared um is growth and development. Um And that we've really committed to our people to provide them growth opportunities especially in the technology sector and ways that we've been able to do that. Um And support that growth of our staff is not only through training curriculums or job shadowing and sharing opportunities, but really through guilds and communities of practice. While these range greatly from social to technical, we see great support of our it professionals including some aimed very specifically at women. Uh We have guilds and community practice focused specifically on growing technical skills and encouraging our women to gain depth in some of these key technical areas and I wanna just highlight a couple of those um that really resonate with me. The Cyber chic is one of our most recent technical guilds aimed at upskilling RFRS women in the cybersecurity domain. This has was a grassroots effort allowing our members to experiment and bring forth essential cyber concepts.

And the, the guild has had strong leadership sponsorship and has been off to a great start since its inception this year, a bit longer term uh season cop is our women in technology community of practice, which focuses on empowering women technologists in Kansas City through mentoring knowledge, sharing, community outreach and leadership opportunities.

We have other broad communities of practice for high focus areas across our delivery team such as Agile Cops that are aimed at sharing lessons learned and ongoing training and collaboration with others who have similar challenges. Our people are empowered and encouraged to identify guilds and community practices that actually resonate with them and there are streamlined processes to help them put these programs into practice. We are constantly looking to keep our talent pipeline strong and we have our tech edge is an innovative program that gives entry level um talent really a chance to take not only control of their own future but to inspire change in our organization. This pipeline is really critical to our continued growth and development and staying out in front of innovative ideas and newer technologies um that are coming. We are very intentional about professional and technical development, allowing our tech edgers to experience different roles over a 6 to 9 month period that align their strengths and passions before having to identify an area where they'll ultimately land. So what this does is really helped to ensure success by finding a great fit for their individual passions and skills that align well to our business needs. I'd like to share a tech edge testimonial to just give you a sense of the power behind our Tech Edge program.

So one of our tech edgers uh stated that the tech edge gave me the opportunity to explore different rotations to figure out what areas I enjoyed the most. The program places a strong focus on your growth, not just your technical skills, I had the opportunity to grow professionally and I gained confidence in public speaking. Another great incentive participating in the Tech Edge program is having access to an inter immediate community and support system.

That support system is an important component of the Tech Edge program. We've also had others uh reinforce that value of the rotations as well to better understand where do they belong, where do they feel like they fit within our organization? Additionally, they see value in creating meaningful relationships across the bank. And we see tech edge alumni that enjoy giving back to the program through campus recruiting, um mentoring new recruits and supporting our tech edge network. This is one of the most exciting programs that I've had a pleasure to be a part of. And it's very exciting to see this new talent come in and really inspire our organization. And finally, we have such a strong community involvement. This is a rewarding part of our culture and one that I think our employees really take to heart and love about their opportunity to give back to the communities that we serve. So we engage in a number of community involvement programs such as volunteering for the Ronald mcdonald House and back to school drives, clothing drives. One of the favorite in Kansas City is the anonymous Santa, which helps us give back to those in need within our community and many other great opportunities throughout the year. There are a couple opportunities that I really wanna highlight here.

Kansas City Fed actually host a um annual event that's called Girls in Tech. And this event really encourages students interest in stem careers. So we consistently host 100 plus students in our girls and tech event. And it, we really believe it's critical to engage our girls at a young age to encourage them in stem careers and to provide them really positive women role models and confidence to enter tech fields. And finally, another um great community effort that we're quite proud of is the Kansas City Feds employer laptop challenge. This is actually a community development program that encourages companies to donate uh used corporate devices. So Kansas City helped coordinate donations of more than 5000 laptops to nonprofits, schools and refurbish in our district. And it's really exciting to be a part of this great effort to give back directly to those here in the 10th district. So now I want to um I wanted to leave some time to just answer some questions that you might have um directly for me about the Federal Reserve um Bank of Kansas City. So I'll open it up for questions now.

Ok, Sandra, I don't see any questions. Does anyone have any questions? Please feel free to drop your questions either in the chat on the Q and A section. If you would like to ask your question, why I'll turn on the prompt to allow you to speak.

All right. Well, if there are no questions, um I do encourage you to check us out on linkedin. Um We've got a great linkedin profile there for the Kansas City fed or feel free to visit us at Kansas City And I really thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share a little bit more about the Federal Reserve system and the Kansas City District um specifically. So thank you very much.