March 28, 2024

In Conversation with Joy Monaghan: Leading Innovation at MDK

As we celebrate Women's History Month, it's essential to recognize the impactful contributions of women in various fields. Today, we shine a spotlight on Joy Monaghan, our Director of Process Solutions. With her 18-year journey at MDK, Joy exemplifies dedication, innovation, and resilience in an ever-changing field.

MDK: Tell us about your career journey at MDK and the changes you've made along the way.

Joy Monaghan: I started at MDK in March of 2006, so I've just celebrated my 18th anniversary here. I started as a legal assistant responsible for just one area, a role that involved a lot of repetitive, time-sensitive tasks. But it was during this time that I realized my knack for finding more efficient solutions. I don’t enjoy settling for the status quo, so I started exploring ways to streamline our processes. That drive for efficiency eventually led me to IT, which has been my home for the past 16 years.

"Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of contributing to MDK’s evolution. Each transition brought new growth opportunities. I’ve been supported and encouraged to grow my technical skills, move into leadership, and branch out into working on developing lines of business."  

MDK: What's the scope of MDK's IT team, and how do you contribute to it?

JM: The IT team at MDK is the backbone of our technological infrastructure. We’re responsible for everything from software engineering and product management to system maintenance. My role within the team revolves around optimizing processes and finding innovative solutions to enhance productivity across the firm.  

One of the things I love about working in IT is the opportunity to bridge the gap between technology and business operations. By understanding the needs and challenges of different teams, we can develop tailored solutions that make a real impact. Whether it’s streamlining document automation or developing a new case management system, I’m always looking for ways to leverage technology to drive positive change within the organization.

MDK: Why do you think automation is important, and how does it impact productivity?

JM: This is one of my favorite topics! In our fast-paced environment, automation is more important than ever. It’s not just about saving time and reducing manual labor (although those are significant benefits), but also about empowering employees to focus on higher-value tasks.  

"When we automate repetitive and mundane tasks, we free up valuable time and resources that can be redirected toward more strategic endeavors. It’s not about replacing human labor with machines; it’s about augmenting human capabilities and enabling people to do their best work. Automation allows us to work smarter, not harder, and ultimately drives greater productivity and innovation."  

MDK: How do you balance flexibility and collaboration in a regulated environment like MDK?

JM: This is one of our main challenges. On one hand, we need to adhere to strict regulations and guidelines to ensure compliance and mitigate risk. On the other hand, we also need to be flexible and adaptable to meet the evolving needs of our clients and stakeholders. It’s vital that we provide high-quality solutions that enhance timelines while remaining cost-effective.

One way we achieve this balance is through close collaboration between IT and other departments. It involves asking a lot of questions. By working closely with the subject matter experts on the operations and legal teams, we identify areas where automation can streamline tedious and repetitive parts of processes without compromising compliance or quality. This collaborative approach allows us to leverage technology to drive efficiency while ensuring we remain compliant with industry regulations.  

MDK: Could you share insights into your current and upcoming projects?

JM: Right now, I’m focused on two main projects that I’m really excited about. The first project involves optimizing our timeshare line of business. While the legal process is similar for our timeshare and residential files, the path to success for our timeshare clients is unique. This high-volume work requires a new twist on everything MDK does well, and it frankly lights up my dopamine receptors that I get to work on it.  

The second project is the development of a new case management system. While our current system, Casee, has served us well, we want something that allows us to better adapt to new opportunities. By leveraging the latest technologies and incorporating feedback from end-users, we aim to develop a more intuitive and efficient system that better meets the needs of our teams and clients. Casee has been built up little by little over 15 years. Version 2.0 will be more cohesive.

2023 Columbus Pride with Team MDK

MDK: What tools or methods do you find indispensable in your work?

JM: I love technology that works exactly the way I think it should work. I’m still searching for the project management software of my dreams; I want the easy drag-and-drop priority managing of Trello combined with the detailed dependency and timeline managing of Wrike.

Email is my go-to for notetaking and communication, allowing me to keep track of important discussions and decisions, and easily find information later when I need it. Shared documents are key for collaboration and documentation, as they allow multiple team members to contribute both asynchronously and in real time. The annotate feature in Zoom is indispensable for a visual person like me (and anyone who has patiently tolerated my tendency to point at a screen they cannot see). And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my fidget toy and stress ball as necessary tools.

But the most indispensable method is having the right balance of structure and free time. Too little structure and it can be hard to be productive. Too much and you lose the ability to explore something you’re curious about, which makes creativity impossible. It's all about finding what works best for you to stay organized, efficient, and sane.

MDK: As a woman in tech, what advice would you give to other women looking to break into the field?

JM: I’m fortunate to work in a company that has many successful women across our teams, including IT, attorneys, and leadership. That said, I definitely have had the occasional reminder of gender bias in the industry. What’s worked for me was to find a good balance of amazing, supportive women and a few delightfully blunt men who remind me that they would never waste time fretting over whether they were asked for their opinion, and I shouldn’t either.

In celebrating Joy's journey, we're inspired by her dedication, innovation, and pursuit of efficiency for herself and Team MDK. Thank you, Joy, for all that you do!

Connect with Joy on LinkedIn here.

This publication is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an opinion of MDK.
Do not rely on this publication without seeking legal counsel.