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When a Risk on Hidden Talent Pays Off — PenFed Credit Union

When a Risk on Hidden Talent Pays Off — PenFed Credit Union

PenFed Credit Union’s IBM Z Apprenticeship Graduation Ceremony 

The atmosphere was electric as PenFed Credit Union hosted its inaugural IBM Z Apprenticeship Graduation Ceremony. The event celebrated the journey and remarkable achievements of PenFed’s first apprentice graduates, who not only successfully completed their rigorous, on-the-job training programs – but also contributed to essential business processes for the bank which supports 2.8 million members worldwide. Here are the highlights.  

As the ceremony commenced, Gary Maditz, AVP IT Core Infrastructure Systems at PenFed, congratulated the graduates and emphasized the significance of their achievements. “Congratulations – it’s been quite a journey!” he said. “Keep that learning going, and hopefully you’ll stay in the Mainframe world for many, many years to come.” These words set the stage for an inspiring event that showcased the progress of PenFed’s first IBM Z Apprentice graduates. 

Tyson’s Corner – PenFed’s Corporate Headquarters

“What still blows me away is that 80% of financial services transactions are run on the Mainframe,” said Joe Thomas, Chief Information Officer, PenFed Credit Union. “Banks, insurance companies, mortgage services all rely on this platform. It isn’t going anywhere and so thank you to IBM and Franklin for this fantastic program and congratulations to our new graduates and associates!” 

Meredith Stowell, Vice President of Ecosystem for IBM zSystems, took the stage and highlighted the importance of taking risks. Quoting Denzel Washington, she said, “Without PenFed embracing a new, non-traditional skills path and hiring talent without four-year degree requirements, we wouldn’t be here,” she added. “And thank you to the apprentices who took the risk to work on a platform you’d never heard of! Every year we innovate, so there is so much potential for your career on IBM zSystems. If you want to work in analytics, or the latest and greatest language, or AI, or system networking… you can do it on this platform. There’s so much potential and I can’t wait to see where your careers take you!”  

Cable Rose, the Professional Success Coach from Franklin Apprenticeships, delivered heartfelt comments about the exceptional graduates. He highlighted their remarkable achievements, growth, and dedication. “John, you’ve been a vital addition to the PenFed team, bringing humor and dedication to every task,” Cable remarked. “And Anila, your analytical abilities have impressed us all. You continually strive for excellence and ask insightful questions, driving us forward. Mary, from day one, you embraced the challenge with professionalism and attention to detail. Your journey has been remarkable.” 

John W., a former administrative assistant, expressed his belief in the apprenticeship model, saying, “It’s been a great experience. I really believe in the model of apprenticeships in the tech space. I appreciate the opportunity at PenFed, where we make constant, consistent progress on tough problems. We always find a way to win. It’s very satisfying, and that’s why I’ll be here for a long time.” 

Gary, John’s manager, explained that “John took on asset management of the Mainframe, which is a daunting task! He also took responsibility for running mainframe CICS reporting. He took the time was taken to make sure data was right and so I knew I could trust the reports.” 

Anila P. remarked, “Thank you IBM for creating this wonderful program for us. Thanks to Franklin and my amazing coach! I always looked forward to our meetings. And thank you to my manager, Ralph. It’s a big deal getting into a job after a career break, and it’s my first job in the U.S. Lastly, thanks to my managers and my teammates for always being there for me too.” 

Anila’s manager, Belinda Lee, IT Senior Manager, said, “I can’t say enough good things about Anila. She never says, ‘I can’t do it’ or ‘I won’t try.’ Cable is right – she asks wonderful questions, and her professionalism is outstanding. Anila came in and worked on a critical project for us, End of Year. Every penny must be accurate. Every single task must be correct. And Anila did an outstanding job for us and delivered. She is adaptable, she displays professionalism – she has the potential to make a huge contribution at PenFed.” 

Graduate Mary G. also shared she was grateful for the opportunity and discussed what taking this risk meant to her, “When we talk about taking risks, it reminds me of when I discovered Franklin and started taking the IBM Z Pre-apprenticeship program. I knew it might work, but it might not. I finished that program and then two or three months later, Franklin got in touch and said, ‘PenFed is hiring! Are you interested?’ And that’s how I got here today. Franklin and IBM, I really appreciate what you’re doing. You’re truly changing lives.” 

“We gave Mary ownership of one of our critical business processes,” said Ralph Young, Director IT, Application Management at PenFed. “We said, ‘Mary, you own it.’ And she did! We gave her more and more and more over the last year and a half. She never flinched, never faltered and handled everything we threw at her.” 

Ralph reflected, “I want to say how proud I am of you all. From where you started to where you are today. It’s amazing.” 

Cable wrapped up the event to applause from both in-person and virtual attendees, saying, “Today we all saw firsthand just how well a tech apprenticeship program can work. What we do with IBM and Franklin is not a flash in the pan. We deliver significant ROI and significant talent who will continue to contribute to PenFed many years to come.” 

Click Here to learn more about the IBM Z Apprenticeship program.

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