Episode 275: Leading Beyond Boundaries w/ Jana Merfen

Whether training for a triathlon or leading the transformation of a cross-functional business unit, Jana Merfen truly gives it her all. When she was recruited into one of the top professional services firms as a new college graduate, little did she know that within 14 years, she would be named among Ingram’s “40 Under 40” executives for exhibiting the highest levels of integrity and community engagement. Listen to Jana share stories about her ascension to Chief Technology Officer, and see how she pushes companies and teams into new realms.

Bio: Jana Merfen, Chief Technology Officer, joined CrossFirst in January 2021. Jana has over 20 years of technology, innovation, and accounting expertise. Among Jana’s strengths is her ability to help usher companies into new phases of innovation and success at the convergence of legacy business and digital transformation. Jana’s career journey—one that has taken her from PwC and KPMG classic business training to her role as an executive linchpin—is a timeline of consistency, a commitment to excellence, and stewardship. Whether training for a triathlon or leading the transformation of a cross-functional business unit, her differentiating blend of holistic business perspective and detail focus has been pivotal in stretching company performance beyond previously accepted limits.

A natural leader with an intellectual curiosity and reliable instincts, Jana knows that there are no successes without collaboration and the creation of teams who are motivated and inspired to deliver standout work. This perspective has been foundational in her ability to quickly assess the status quo, question deeply rooted business practices, gain buy-in across functions, and convert complex business problems into opportunities for transformative change. She is consistently invited to speak to company, industry, and community groups about these leadership successes.

Since January 2021, Jana has served as the Chief Technology Officer for CrossFirst Bank. CrossFirst Bank is a publicly held organization with over $6 billion in assets. Jana drives positive change across the technology environment in alignment with the organization’s vision and growth strategy. Jana previously served as the Chief Information Officer for Dickinson Financial Corporation (DFC) for four years, a multibillion-dollar, private bank holding company. Jana led numerous compliance and risk management initiatives while at QTS Data Centers, one of which included building a cloud environment that was FedRAMP certified. Jana leveraged her data center expertise while the Director of Information Systems and Enterprise Project Management at CommunityAmerica. Here, she was a standout leader within strategy, change management, and technology teams that were key in driving process automation, innovation, and efficiencies.  

Jana’s service and leadership contributions to the Kansas City community extends beyond her role as a C-level executive. She is a current Advisory Board Member and Chairperson for the Kansas City Sports Commission’s WIN for KC, a nonprofit that empowers women and girls through sports. Jana also serves and supports the Kansas City Sports Commission with her Chairperson role with WIN for KC. Jana is the Chair and a founding member of the Kansas City InspireCIO chapter.  

Jana was named among Ingram’s 40 under 40 executives for exhibiting entrepreneurial thinking, leadership acumen, and civic community engagement. Jana is also a graduate of the Central Exchange Emerging Leaders Program and the Olathe Leadership Program. Jana holds a B.S. in accounting from The Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. 

Jana and her husband Brent have three children, James, Adam, and Cora and reside in Kansas City. Jana loves to travel with her family and spends her weekends cheering on her kids at their sports activities. Jana enjoys baking, running, biking, and relaxing with a terrific book.

Jana’s Something Extra: “Being that supportive advocate for your team members and your teammates and your peers.”

Guest Links:

– Lisa Nichols, Host
– Jenny Heal, Executive Producer
– Joe Szynkowski and Landon Burke, Marketing Support
– Portside Media, Podcast Engineer

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