Employee Spotlight: Ashley Nugent, Sr. Client Project Manager

On a regular basis, we talk with our team members about their experience working at Canoe, and their future goals and aspirations. This week, we spoke with Ashley Nugent, Sr. Client Project Manager.

What drew you to join Canoe? Are there specific aspects of the company’s culture or approach that stood out to you?

Prior to working at Canoe I had been following the company on LinkedIn, and through some former colleagues, for a couple of years. I had briefly left the FinTech space for wealth management, but was itching to get back. Having been an anthropology major in college, I hold a fondness for observing cultures and human interactions, which are rapidly evolving with the increased introduction of AI in the FinTech space. When I truly dove into researching what Canoe was doing and how, I recognized that working alongside so many industry leaders was precisely what I wanted in my next career step. 

Specific to Canoe, the people, both employees and clients alike, make this an outstanding place to be. Given we work in a relatively young field, we have the luxury of paving what the road looks like. This means we aren’t exclusively hiring from within the financial services industry, but we’re able to look beyond into different technology fields, product fields–the list goes on! On the client side, because we’re technology driven and forward-looking, we’re partnering with tomorrow’s leaders in the financial industry who see the value technology carries.

As a Senior Client Project Manager, your role involves overseeing complex projects. Can you share a project that you found particularly challenging and how you navigated through it?

One of my first projects here at Canoe started as a “relatively straightforward” implementation. The client and I kicked off on a strong note–we built a strong partnership early based on in honesty and experience. Where things pivoted to become challenging was actually due to a product enhancement on the Canoe side! As a project manager, one of my indicators of success is building and executing an efficient and scalable project. However, efficiency takes a backseat to client experience and need.

With this product release, the workaround we had built was no longer the best solution for the client. We wound up pausing briefly to re-evaluate their workflow needs to ensure the product release was still relevant for this client, and then updating our shared project plan. Both sides were transparent that while this hurdle would increase the length of implementation, the time and labor it would save the client moving forward was monumentally more valuable. Because of the strong relationship I built with the entire client team, it was easy to pivot and be in tune with their needs. While my goal is to make implementations as timely as possible, the quality and satisfaction of the client will always be top priority.

Canoe is recognized for its innovation in the fintech space. How do you see our technology and solutions setting us apart from other players in the industry, and how does this impact the projects you manage?

A major factor for Canoe’s innovation is that we aren’t afraid to change. While we have thorough testing and evaluation cycles for all operational and product enhancements, we also acknowledge few things in this industry are permanent. We stay on our toes to ensure we’re racing ahead of competitors, and recognize when we need to shift our approach. 

In 2023, the client project management team launched a pod of project managers who focus on our Canoe Connect offering. By acknowledging the need for this change, we’re able to provide detailed knowledge on best practices, expedite implementations, and deliver a stronger educational experience to the client overall. 

Effective client communication is crucial in project management. How do you ensure clear and transparent communication with clients, and how do you believe this contributes to Canoe’s reputation as a leader in the field?

All industries, including FinTech, have a knack for cultivating their own language (dare I say lingo)that rarely is applied consistently. Just like learning a new language, we have to ensure we’re all translating correctly and understanding where clients (and colleagues!) are coming from. Given our client project managers “live” in Canoe world, I consider us the interpreters of the platform. It’s up to us to know how a client’s data translates into Canoe, and not put that burden of translation on them as they embark on their Canoe implementation. 

To keep this transparency, we utilize a project management tool that is available to clients at all times alongside our weekly project calls. Clear communication in this industry is non-negotiable. By ensuring clients are transparently aligned with our next steps, we’re able to candidly discuss product feedback and strategic project goals, allowing us to pivot our objectives based on the client’s needs. 

In your role, you likely work closely with clients to understand their needs and deliver tailored solutions. What strategies do you employ to ensure client satisfaction, and how do you believe Canoe’s approach is unique?

Spending the majority of my time on implementations, a major key to success is going through a discovery workflow and then identifying what change management looks like. By asking open ended questions early on (we’re talking as soon as the project launches!), we’re able to ensure both the client and Canoe are aligned on what our high-level objectives are, what our roadmap looks like, and how we will partner together to launch Canoe. 

Canoe’s approach is unique because the majority of our clients are coming from a manual solution that has been at play for a significant amount of time, versus migrating from a prior tech vendor. We (alongside our clients) are juggling not just technology integrations, but identifying how we change an employee’s day-to-day tasks. This includes not only logging into a new tech platform, but also reinventing their day to be more efficient, and prioritize more crucial work. 

Technology implementations are notoriously daunting. By taking a step back at the onset together, ensuring we’re all speaking the same industry language, and having the same vision of success, Canoe sees clients complete their onboarding on a high-note, as well as continue to develop lasting partnerships.