For our June Employee Spotlight, we’d like to introduce you to FISPAN Product Manager, Joanne Tong! Since joining the team in 2020 as a Product Business Analyst, Joanne has grown to become a Product Manager responsible for FISPAN’s ERP integration portfolio. Alongside a team of FISPAN Product Managers and Business Analysts, she ensures users are getting the products and features they need.
Joanne obtained her Bachelors in Business Administration degree from Simon Fraser University in Management Information Systems and Operations Management. Prior to starting at FISPAN she worked for Vancouver Coastal Health and ImageX Media, growing her experience in agile project work and implementation.
Let’s get to know a little more about Joanne, the skills that have been most important to her career, and how she fell into the world of fintech through product.
Weekend Warrior: Joanne enjoys the view at Widgeon Lake while paddle-boarding
What made you decide to come to FISPAN in the first place? What attracted you to the position/company?
Choosing to work in fintech wasn’t something I purposely set out to do, but it ended up being one of the best choices I’ve made. What drew me to FISPAN initially was seeing an opportunity to work in Product. Coming out of my last role at a web development shop, I yearned for the opportunity to “own” and grow something, as well as take it in any direction I choose. From what I knew about Product, I pictured myself on a highly-dynamic team that sits at the intersection of many other teams (i.e. development, delivery, customer support, sales) with an opportunity to experience everything.
After chatting with Graham McLean who was already with FISPAN at the time, I learned that FISPAN didn’t actually have a product team yet and was looking to create one. The prospect of growing myself professionally in a new industry, team, and role was both scary and exciting, so naturally I dove in head first.
I’ve also always been drawn to smaller companies and/or start-ups. I feel that with companies of this size your voice matters more, and you have more opportunities for growth and mentorship.
What skills have been the most important for you so far in your career?
My experience in UX has proven useful as it’s given me another perspective on gathering feedback to improve a product. While the main purpose of our user feedback calls are to collect requirements and validate ideas, I always like to leave time to revisit features we’ve built previously and facilitate discussions on usability and overall experiences of those features. Product, like UX design, is evidence-based and is an extremely iterative process.
Strong written communication skills are a must. I spend a good majority of time writing, whether that’s user requirements, acceptance criteria, presentations, or even Slack messages. Most documentation coming out of the product organization makes its way through various teams and eventually becomes distilled into other forms, such as marketing one-pagers and support guides. Being able to clearly and concisely communicate product deliverables, specifications, and other important information ensures everyone is on the same page and is a great way of clearing up any misunderstandings.
What is your favourite part of working at FISPAN?
The FISPAN team is nothing short of amazing. I’m surrounded by a supportive team, a ton of folks passionate about their work, and blessed with a great manager. Not only that, we have a mix of personalities here that make work not feel like work.
Another big thing is that I feel that my voice and experiences are heard and valued here, and it empowers me to do my best.
If you were to give any piece of advice to anyone applying to FISPAN what would that be?
My advice would be to ask lots of questions. In roles that I’ve been the hiring manager for, what I found sets apart top-tier candidates from the rest are the level of thought and insight put behind questions that I’m asked. A big part of working at FISPAN is asking “why” – whether that’s “why is this important to users” or “why don’t we have a template for xyz”. Folks who ask these “whys” and then act on it in the form of doing more research on a topic or creating new templates/processes are major assets to FISPAN.
What are your main passions and interests outside of work?
If I’m not at my desk, you can find me on the water! I am a competitive dragon boat paddler on a local premier team that will be representing Vancouver, BC at the Club Crew World Championships in July this year. I had a brief stint as a rower with my university team before I fell in love with dragon boat in 2017. I’ve had opportunities to compete at both the national and international level, as well as participate in Team Canada selections. Who would’ve thought an activity I signed up for on a whim would bring me here!
Funnily enough while most of my passions revolve around water… I am not a very good swimmer.
As an avid paddler, practicing on the water is a must for Joanne (left). Joanne’s dragon boat team is all smiles as they place 3rd at the Vessi 500 race.
What are you most excited for this year?
Definitely excited to see the continued growth of our product organization. We’ve come a long way from just 3 of us, and now we’re nearly 20! With new minds comes fresh perspectives.
I’m also very excited to be seeing more FISPAN folks in office as some of us are moving towards a hybrid working model. Huge difference from having started at FISPAN remotely in 2020 during the height of the pandemic in a Zoom-only world.
What is your proudest moment in your professional career?
My proudest moment so far has been representing FISPAN at Oracle NetSuite’s annual SuiteWorld conference in October 2021. I always knew FISPAN set out to make banking better for accountants, but it was only after interacting with prospective end users face-to-face and seeing the look of joy on their faces when demoing our embedded NetSuite solution that made me realize how special our work was, and the major part I played in it as Product Manager.