Experienced, passionate, and credit union-savvy.
and with a track record of turning data into action—and results.
Mike Defnet brings an extensive list of accomplishments to AdvantEdge Analytics. Throughout his career, he has led highly productive, engaged teams and developed many key leaders across the CUNA Mutual Group organization.
Prior to heading AdvantEdge Analytics, Mike was the senior vice president of business experience for CUNA Mutual Group. In that role, he was responsible for leading all aspects of CUNA Mutual Group’s experience with credit unions, advisors, small businesses and other distribution partners.
Before that, Mike served as senior vice president of sales and marketing for CUNA Mutual Group, where he was responsible for leading all aspects of the business-to-business sales organization, including marketing and customer implementation.
Mike brings more than 30 years of progressive experience in sales and marketing leadership, sales operations and sales strategy. His extensive leadership background includes distribution of commercial, consumer and investment products for credit unions and credit union members.
Mike earned an MBA degree in finance and a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
Mike and his wife, Renee, live in the Madison area with their two children.
Wish you had a crystal ball that could provide the sure-fire next steps to drive your credit union’s digital transformation? We’re happy to bring you the next best thing: Shazia Manus.
A credit union data pioneer, Shazia has a history of credit union data firsts. She oversaw the system’s first investment in leveraging offshore analytics capabilities and co-created the first member attrition model for credit unions using big data principles.
Those seem like data-centric achievements, but don’t let them fool you. To Shazia, the credit union member is first; data is but a means to an end. Having been both a credit union leader and provider, Shazia understands the cultural nucleus, business model, systems, and digital gaps of both credit unions and system technology providers.
Shazia spent nearly a decade at Greater Iowa Credit Union, ultimately as President/CEO. On the provider side of the aisle, she served as CEO for payments processor TMG and most recently as EVP, Chief Product & Strategy Officer for CO-OP Financial Services.
She began her academic career at University of Dhaka in Bangladesh before transferring to Iowa State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics. Shazia is also a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Executive Leadership Program; the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Executive Education; and the CUES CEO Institute.
When she’s not helping credit unions see how digital transformation can positively affect their members, Shazia is probably indulging in her favorite pastime: learning something new. Having completed a cake-decorating class, she continues to perfect her baking at home (ask to see one of her amazingly intricate designs); her piano lessons continue to inspire her; and she recently started studying with a Zen coach to improve her mindfulness practice. The common thread and one she embraces professionally too: an ability to lean on and learn from others.
Data nerd-tastic facts about Shazia: Although data might be stored as binary code, she doesn’t see it as binary or black-and-white. It’s messy and multi-dimensional -- and that’s just how she likes it!
Should you trust your experience or trust the numbers? Chris Nicholas would be quick to point out the answer is typically “both.” To him, it is critical to combine deep business expertise with data and cutting-edge analytics to create actionable insight.
Chris has spent the last 20 years in consulting, application development, and data science. Over the past decade, he’s built multiple analytics and data programs from the ground up and most recently led analytics for TruStage Insurance at CUNA Mutual Group.
Before that, Chris built and led the data science organization at Nationwide Insurance and worked at management consultant KPMG serving a diverse mix of Fortune 50 clients in the U.S. and abroad.
Chris has a Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Connecticut and has completed graduate coursework at The Ohio State University.
Chris is an ardent believer in the power of data and feels it empowers each of us to better understand the world around us and make positive, measurable change at home and at work. His philosophy: “Start with the simplest thing that works, then make it work better.”
When Chris isn’t empowering his clients with his thoughtful approach to data and analytics, he’s probably in a trout stream, putting a few more miles on his road bike, or enjoying a home brew.
Data nerd-tastic facts about Chris: Chris and his team of data wizards tirelessly spin data and variables to create and fine tune our predictive models. In 2016, these models helped credit unions protect thousands of members.
No one knows and serves their members like credit unions.
But when branch visits are declining and the competition is as likely to be a technology giant as a bank, credit unions can’t rely on traditional in-person or telephone interactions to understand their members’ needs. They’ve got to leverage their data across all channels. And Brian Bodell is just the person to help them do that.
Brian believes data provides credit unions with tremendous opportunities to better serve members. Or, as he likes to say, “Credit unions need a data strategy to serve, grow and compete—period.”
Before joining our team, Brian was the CEO of Finivation Software, a real-time integration platform and software development company with a nearly two-decade history of working with credit unions and leading technology partners.
Brian’s other previous positions included VP of global channel development for Fiserv and President at qbt Systems, a banking technology resource. Ever forward-looking, he also serves on the advisory board for CULedger—a CUSO focused on distributed ledger technology—and the CUFX steering committee—an initiative focused on reducing integration time and costs for credit unions.
In short: No matter the credit union data and systems integration challenge, Brian’s likely already taken a deep dive into understanding and solving it.
Brian graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Vermont and is currently getting his Masters in Cybersecurity from George Washington University.
When he’s not headed to the airport for a business trip Brian’s probably headed there for a long flight with his family. He loves global travel and describes himself as a “very adventurous eater.” Brian admits to a love of sweetbreads, sea urchin and sea cucumber (please Google for a full appreciation of these seemingly benign delicacies).
Data nerd-tastic fact about Brian:He’s currently pursuing a Master’s degree in cybersecurity “for fun.” Brian is fascinated by the role data plays in improving security—for things like fraud detection and authentication—and can’t wait to spend his free time learning more.
Feeling excited about the wealth of data your credit union has access to—but also a sense of “now what?” when it comes to actually putting it to work?
That’s because you haven’t met Emily Engstrom.
As the leader of the Insight Activation team, Emily provides the critical last piece of your data puzzle. Whether you want to use data to better engage with your members, grow wallet share, uncover trends in fraud, better manage lending risk or optimize your marketing channels, count on Emily and her team to develop an exceptional data strategy that deploys your resources efficiently and effectively.
Before joining AdvantEdge Analytics, Emily held a variety of roles with CUNA Mutual Group. She helped credit unions throughout the Midwest manage lending compliance and operations and oversaw sales planning strategies for a number of CUNA Mutual Group products and services.
Emily started her system career with one of the Midwest’s premier credit unions: $2 billion Summit Credit Union. There she honed her skills in lending, operations, retail branches and underwriting.
When she’s not helping credit unions activate their data insights, you’re likely to find her taking a run, traveling somewhere new or just enjoying time with family and friends.
Data nerd-tastic fact about Emily: Credit unions are one of her favorite topics around the office and around the dining room table. Emily and her better half met at a credit union and her husband continues to work there and oversees all retail efforts for the credit union’s 34 branches. Which means Emily has daily exposure to the real challenges and opportunities credit unions face and the critical role data can play in addressing and optimizing them.
When insights are everywhere, you need a hands-on data connoisseur who can screen out the static and focus on the meaningful.
We count on Raj Rathi. Raj has significant experience in trading and the financial industry, spent nearly decade helping credit unions navigate data-driven strategy, and was the co-founder of data analytics firm, SavvyIntel (acquired by AdvantEdge Analytics).
At AdvantEdge, Raj heads up data platform development. He keeps his eye on the ever-changing business landscape in credit unions -- everything from underwriting, lending originations, branch performance management, product pricing, credit committee, and ALCO -- and ensures our platforms reflect the dynamic environment they live in.
Raj received his master’s degree in engineering from SGGS Engineering college in India. He then earned his MBA in finance. In 2007, he became a Chartered Financial Analyst® charter holder (CFA).
When Raj isn’t getting life lessons from Warren Buffet or the Dalai Lama (two of his favorite inspirations), you might find him enjoying the serenity of a national park (he’s visited more than 20) or listening to a Tim Ferriss podcast.
Data nerd-tastic facts about Raj: He has a passion for mentoring data technology to help credit unions leverage data easily and efficiently. He is obsessed with bringing simple solutions for complex problems.
The next time you have an “ah-ha” moment from your data, chances are you won’t be looking at a spreadsheet. You can thank Jamie Wenger for that: The mastermind who turns million points of data into easy-to-use visualizations and automated stories.
Each day, Jamie and the six development and implementation teams he leads are hard at work making sure you have visual tools that quickly and accurately convey the critical insights from your data. Jamie compares his work to that of a private investigator: someone who’s scrutinizing the pieces of a puzzle and working to solve and share the story at the heart of it.
This role is just the latest way Jamie has harnessed his lifelong fascination with data. Before joining our team, he was the director of Management Information System for CUNA Mutual Group, where he worked closely with credit unions to ensure the integrity and efficacy of their data and analytics.
A graduate of the CUDE program, Jamie is a huge proponent of the credit union difference and excited to help credit unions leverage their data story.
Jamie graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and holds two bachelor’s degrees: one in geography (focusing on Geographic Information Systems) and one in history.
When he’s not finding a way to interpret, articulate and visualize data for your credit union, Jamie is probably headed to one of our country’s amazing national parks. He’s started a quest to visit every one—usually with his wife and three kids in tow—and knowing Jamie, we have no doubt he’ll succeed.
Data nerd-tastic fact about Jamie: He’s obsessed with genealogy. Jamie can trace his family history back to the 1600s and can place more than 1,200 individuals on the Wenger family tree. Ask to see his photo of the Swiss home where a member of his family has lived continuously for more than four hundred years!
Ready to start your data journey but not quite sure where you should be headed or the steps to make it happen?
It’s time to call Aaron Grossman.
One of our Solution Specialists, Aaron would love to meet your staff, learn about your credit union and your members, and walk you through the process of creating a data and digital transformation for your organization.
A long-time credit union member, Aaron has fond memories of his childhood credit union and the feeling that it always seemed to know and understand him. He’s thrilled to help credit unions uncover and use data insights that can establish that same kind of connection for today’s members.
Aaron joined AdvantEdge Analytics after successful careers with Oracle and IBM. There he honed both his data analytics knowledge and client service skills and showed dozens of companies how to use data to make informed decisions.
Aaron has always been interested in connections and structure and holds Bachelors degrees in sociology and architecture from the University of Virginia.
When he’s not tackling a client’s data challenges, you’ll probably find Aaron outside—no matter the weather. Aaron loves to get away from his desk and head outdoors. You’ll typically find him playing sports, checking out a great new restaurant or hanging out with his faithful companion Tucker, his Blue Lacy.
Data nerd-tastic fact about Aaron: He loves fantasy sports and has spent more hours than he’d care to tally up playing fantasy football, basketball, and baseball. Aaron admits to relying on luck when he first started playing. But once he realized the competition was using data and analytics to make their draft picks, he quickly changed his strategy (and even relied on a software developer buddy to build him a spread sheet).
Take a look at Mark’s professional credentials and you’ll quickly see two common threads: curiosity and technology. In every role, Mark has leveraged both to help his clients address their challenges and improve their operations.
Mark has worked with a wide range of companies, from start-ups to multi-nationals, in fields that include cooperative finance, money transmittance, mobile, and ecommerce. In a number of recent projects, he’s focused on using mobile device data to reduce fraud and enhance the user experience in real time—experience we’re excited to tap into for the credit union space.
Mark’s curiosity also drives him to look beyond technology when he’s helping clients navigate a challenge. He’s found the collaborative nature of credit unions to be an excellent way to help clients uncover and apply best practice solutions.
Mark is currently wrapping up the Executive MBA program at Penn State University (go Mark!) and holds a bachelor of science degree in Business Accounting from California Polytechnic State University.
When he’s not helping credit unions leverage their data,, you can find Mark spending time with his wife and their two children, working on a project around the house or outside enjoying a run or a swim.
Data nerd-tastic facts about Mark: Think mobile banking is all about smart phones? In the tech dark ages of 2000, Mark helped San Francisco’s Patelco Credit Union launch mobile banking on flip phones and Palm Pilots!
It might not be the first word that comes to mind when determining how to best tap into and leverage your member data insights. But it’s the one Tyler Nelson thinks of when he’s about to help a new credit union client navigate their data transformation journey.
That’s likely because Tyler finds everything about data so valuable and rewarding. He loves helping a credit union move from a place where they’re struggling to organize and optimize their data, to one where they’re confidently using it to drive success for their members and themselves. Which, come to think of it, does sound like fun.
Tyler comes to AdvantEdge Analytics from the world of investment banking and trading and brings a deep understanding of big data, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to our team. He combines this knowledge with an appreciation for credit unions’ member-first focus and Tyler’s excited to help our clients make a difference.
Tyler’s interest in economics goes back to his days at the Air Force Academy and he holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science from Howard University. Tyler is a graduate of the Tuck Business Bridge Program at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, where he honed his forecasting and modeling skills.
When he’s not showing credit unions how to use data to drive member value, Tyler’s enjoying having the Rockies in his backyard once again. After spending much of his childhood in Wyoming and Colorado, Tyler opted for the coasts after college. Although he loved living in New York City and San Francisco, nothing could quite replace the mountains. Tyler was thrilled his move to AdvantEdge Analytics allowed him to move his family to the Denver area.
Data nerd-tastic fact about Tyler: He kicks off each morning with a math session with his oldest daughter. Tyler reports she’s been dying to learn long division for the past year and now that she’s tackled multiplication —at the tender age of seven!— they’re ready to roll.