Professional Development

A PNC veteran marks new territory as a senior vice president

Bobbie Johnson’s passion for technology began in her childhood and has followed her for her entire career.

Bobbie Johnson. (Courtesy photo)

This article is sponsored by PNC Financial Services and was reviewed before publication. PNC is a Technical.ly Talent Pro client.

Bobbie Johnson’s journey to PNC Financial Services started in 1995 when her family saved $1,523 to buy their first computer.

Johnson, the family-appointed technology subject matter expert, selected the computer model to purchase, hooked it up and installed its startup software.

“That was my first aha moment where I was like, ‘This is what I want to do,” she said. “It just continued from there.”

Now Johnson applies her technical knowledge as a senior vice president of PNC’s Tech Ops organization. Her job is to keep the banking side of PNC running smoothly, and to ensure its technical systems are top notch.

Her current scope of work? She estimates she oversees 338 applications in PNC’s portfolio, with approximately 250 people reporting to her, supporting 10 to 11 million customers.

“When you hear that, you go, ‘Wow, that’s an impressive portfolio.’ But it’s more about the work I get to do every day,” Johnson said. “It’s rewarding because we get to find different problems and solve them. Sometimes we’re successful and sometimes we’re not. It’s my job to try and find a way to help our organization improve.”

Johnson has been at PNC for four consecutive years, but this isn’t her first stint at the banking organization. In 2005, she answered customers’ questions over the phone at the support desk. After that, Johnson worked for several other organizations in a variety of roles — systems engineer, systems architect and another role at PNC as a senior software engineer.

What’s kept Johnson focused is working on technology that helps customers access financial tools so they can enrich their lives through financial wellness.

She joined PNC again in November 2018 and was elevated to her current position in October 2020. Her previous roles introduced her to different areas of technology that helped her learn how to keep applications running quickly and efficiently. It prepared Johnson for the “noise of technology,” she said.

Crucially, her experience in application infrastructure taught Johnson how to connect different aspects of a project so she’s not too focused on one particular element, but on the big picture, she said.

Connecting the dots is an integral part of her current day-to-day activity. Her role is a mix of people management and technical strategy. Tasked with choosing the right technology to keep the systems running and to quickly recover systems when there is an issue, Johnson said she also focuses on empowering her team members to make technical decisions.

She collaborates with a wide variety of people at PNC, including software developers and architects, software leaders, executive leaders, product owners, product managers and project managers. The topics of their conversations vary from application design, how to detect and respond to failure, automation and overall system challenges.

The underlying thread that runs through all of these conversations is the technology’s impact on the business and customer service, Johnson said: “It’s a whole framework of people, processes and technology that you’re managing at the same time. One might be in front of the other at any given point. There’s always something happening, and I’m trying to steer people to the right decision based on the data that we have.”

Johnson said she was initially drawn to this role because it sounded like a challenge. What’s kept her focused? Working on technology that helps customers access financial tools so they can enrich their lives through financial wellness and savings.

The mission reminds her of lessons learned during her childhood. Money was a stressor for her family and she observed how it impacted her parents. She was also taught its value when it came to keeping the lights on. Even when her family bought their first computer, thus introducing her to her career-long passion, she contributed to the family’s savings for the purchase.

“Times are tight right now. If people can access the tools, and the products and services PNC offers, that will help their families succeed and build a financial future,” Johnson said. “It’s our duty to the community to make sure our customers have access to those tools. My organization provides those important services, and we work hard to do so.”

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Companies: PNC Financial Services
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