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Jen Albanese

Business Analyst

Published: November 17, 2020

Jen Albanese is a Business Analyst with the Digital Solutions team at Gulf & Fraser.

Jen followed a rather unconventional path into the finance industry. Having explored career paths in marketing and criminal justice, she eventually honed in on her interests in finance and real estate and started pursuing a career as a mortgage broker. It was that decision that eventually led her to Gulf & Fraser.

Jen started her career with Gulf & Fraser as what was then called a Service Representative. Several years in, she had climbed the ranks to Assistant Branch Manager. She worked in the Surrey and Port Coquitlam branches until July 2020, when she took a bold step in her career—from serving members and managing staff to working behind the scenes as a business analyst.

What do you enjoy most about working for Gulf & Fraser?

“Gulf & Fraser offers many learning opportunities to employees, allowing us to both serve our membership better, as well as grow and progress into new and more challenging roles.”

In her role with the Digital Solutions team, Jen is responsible for analyzing existing business processes for financial services, gathering requirements from stakeholders, and assisting with testing and implementing systems and processes.

This requires not so much a technical skillset, but more the inquisitive, detailed mind of an analyst—one who has a broad understanding of Gulf & Fraser’s banking system, how internal and external systems are integrated to provide service to members. As well, project management skills are extremely important to the role. Jen has all that in spades.

How did you make the career jump from branch management to digital banking systems?

It took Jen time and careful thought …and a boost from people who believed in her. After 12 years working in a branch setting, Jen got involved in a few projects that peaked her interest and got her thinking about a change in her career. The push she needed came when her manager recognized Jen’s deep knowledge in customer relationship management (CRM). They suggested she join a working group to identify best practices for a new CRM system before it was rolled out to the entire organization. The work was carried out over many months and involved extensive analysis of process and user behaviour.

Later that year, and in the midst of an audit, Jen took the initiative to propose suggestions to the auditor on how processes might be improved. Her tenacity paid off. An executive heard what Jennifer had done and suggested she be part of another working group, once again to analyze and re-think processes. 

"Those two experiences opened my eyes to what skillset I may be better suited for. Sales has always been an aspect of my role, but I’ve always been drawn to the audit, digging down and uncovering the root causes of problems and implementing solutions. When I was helping members, I found myself more drawn to finding the cause of the problem, the journey.

After talking to others at Gulf & Fraser, I thought I should explore something that was more a problem solver or technical type role. Lesley [VP, Digital Solutions] encouraged me to explore some of those roles that were available and this role came up!"

How would you describe Gulf & Fraser’s culture?

“Gulf & Fraser’s culture is empowerment and caring—both internally and externally.”

How would you sum up your experience at Gulf & Fraser?

“I really credit the people I work with for pushing me out of my comfort zone and helping me realize my potential.” 

What’s one piece of advice you would give to those thinking of a career change?

“Reach out and talk to as many people as you can. Hear different perspectives­—especially prior to making that significant of a change in your career. Be that “detective” and ask different questions in advance. See what you can get involved in to test the waters and see what other opportunities might be open that could fit your experience or personality a little bit better. Making a substantial career change can be daunting and scary so you want to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible.

I had been considering this change for quite some time. I knew I would …do something different. I talked to a career counsellor, HR, training [department], my managers; I wasn’t quiet about it. I wanted to make sure that everyone knew that I had aspirations to do something a little bit different.

You have to make your intentions clear. At the end of the day, you need to be the one that’s driving your own career path."

Begin your career with Gulf & Fraser.