In the “Why Phoenix” series, PhoenixTeam Village members share their personal and unique journeys within the organization. Vicki Withrow’s experience with PhoenixTeam is a testament to the power of this dynamic workplace. Her story takes us on a remarkable journey, highlighting the key milestones, challenges, and inspiring moments that have shaped her professional growth and personal development.
The Beginning of a Journey
As I reflect on my time with PhoenixTeam, certain milestones and turning points come into focus. It all began with a connection and familiar face – Lindsay Bennett. Lindsay and I worked together for a short time previously and her dedication and ability to embrace change left a lasting impression on me. When Lindsay accepted an opportunity with PhoenixTeam, we connected on LinkedIn, and I watched as she and PhoenixTeam grew and impacted the mortgage tech industry. Searching for professional growth and a change for myself, one day I made the decision to contact her when she was searching for someone to join her on a project. Little did I know this would mark the beginning of a career with PhoenixTeam.
In my first three years at PhoenixTeam, I served as a Product Designer and Product Manager on two of its largest programs at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Loan Guaranty (LGY). These programs challenged me in new ways, but it was the trust and support of our leadership that gave me the courage to embrace the unknown and showcase my experience. PhoenixTeam saw my worth, celebrated my work ethic, and always had my back. As a result, my confidence and sense of accomplishment grew both personally and professionally.
In 2021, I transitioned over to support another large commercial mortgage technology client. Leading a team, we took a deep dive into the client’s world, creating high-quality design documents and future state vision. Here, I learned new creative techniques to elicit and understand the client’s daily challenges, the art of asking the right questions, and the power of empathy. We were making a difference, and the client knew that its voice, vision, and objectives, were heard and embraced.
A Period of Transition
There was a moment when life presented challenges that caused me to consider a career outside of the mortgage industry and PhoenixTeam. After eight years in the fintech industry, I took a leap and transitioned into a new role as a Product Manager in the fashion industry, and I loved the idea of a four-day work week policy offered by this company. My father had been diagnosed with skin cancer, and this allowed me to spend more time with him. This timing, along with my aspiration to return to the fashion industry, couldn’t have been more perfect. When I shared my intentions to pursue a different passion with PhoenixTeam leadership, I was met with wholehearted support to follow my dreams. Our Partners blessed my departure and reassured me that I would always have a home with PhoenixTeam.
During my new adventure, the deep product management, design, and implementation expertise I gained from PhoenixTeam set me apart from others. There were six systems I was responsible for as a Product Manager, but I was also called upon for assistance in the customer service arena, monthly catalogue creation, and general technology support. The role was very demanding and when colleagues asked, “WHERE did you come from?” The answer was simple – PhoenixTeam.
I remained in touch with my PhoenixTeam comrades, and they always reassured me that my “village” was here should I find my way back. Within five months, I realized that the fashion industry was not as glamorous as I expected. I returned to the PhoenixTeam Village and was offered the chance to work with a well-known client whose work I greatly admired. This opportunity came under the leadership of Tanya Brennan, PhoenixTeam’s CEO and Managing Partner. She was the only “T” from our founding partners (Tanya, Tom Westerlind, and Tela Mathias) that I had not worked closely with to date, and I was thrilled to benefit from a new viewpoint and leadership style.
As I look back, I have no regrets with my decision to take a chance and follow a dream. My time away allowed me to meet new people, try new things – even when doing so was professionally risky – and gain absolute clarity on what I need and deserve in a company.
My “Why Phoenix”
The heart of PhoenixTeam is its people, each of whom has a wealth of knowledge, a high bar for empathy and compassion, and a shared desire to make a difference. In our world, every project has its challenges, but it is navigating and conquering those experiences that bring the most inspiration. For me, it was several years ago when we were delivering a release under some intense pressure and facing significant challenges with delayed schedules and navigating a rigorous testing phase. In typical PhoenixTeam fashion, we all rallied to deliver on our commitment. Jacki Frazer, PhoenixTeam Managing Practitioner, and I were up until working until 2 a.m. to successfully push the release to production. The minute we dropped off the release call, I stood by the ocean in the cold winter air, tearing up with pride at what we achieved. That night is burned into my memory, and I draw on that energy whenever times get tough, or I just need a reminder of the outcomes I can deliver.
PhoenixTeam has given me a space to push myself to new levels, learn from mistakes without fear, and benefit from true servant leadership and mentorship. I’ve been fortunate to work on federal and commercial programs which has afforded me the amazing opportunity to work with a majority of our Phoenicians. I hope there are those that can say that I made a difference for them. I am forever grateful for PhoenixTeam, its leadership, and its focus on humanity and authenticity.
I will always be thankful to Lindsay Bennett, not just for leading me to this remarkable company but also for her continued mentorship and the heartfelt dedication she brings to everything she does. Without people like her, people who truly care and strive to help others prosper in their career, I would not have achieved the growth and success I have to date. There are many other Phoenicians who stand out as key players in my career journey, each of whom have impacted me in different ways. When you consider it all, everyone at PhoenixTeam is special and always eager to share their knowledge, personal and professional experiences, or just listen.
As I look ahead, I intend to continue to crush every day and grow at PhoenixTeam. Over the past five years, my skillset has quadrupled. While my roots are in Product, PhoenixTeam gave me opportunities to stretch and successfully lead and deliver complex quality, implementation, and release management initiatives. My commitment to PhoenixTeam is strong. The PhoenixTeam Village has been a constant source of support during significant life changes, and I am eternally grateful for the love and mentorship they provide.
PhoenixTeam is not just a workplace; it’s a place where dreams can flourish, and I am proud to call it home.
Vicki Withrow, Managing Practitioner, PhoenixTeam