The Mag Stripes: Changing the Tune on Workplace Culture

A salesman, project manager and operations director walk into a bar. While this might sound like the beginning of a joke or the ending of a hard day at work, it’s actually the set-up for a creative approach Patrick Michalik took to improve company culture and give back to the Austin community by forming an philanthropic band with his co-workers at Netspend.

“The Mag Stripes,” named through a company poll as a nod to Netspend’s standing as a global leader in pre-paid credit cards, formed in 2015 when Michalik, VP of Banking and Settlement Operations, received a professional development grant for Netspend’s “Best of the Best” award and requested it be put towards creating a group to perform at Austin’s annual HAAM Day, an annual fundraiser for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians.

“Live Music has always been a part of Netspend’s culture.  We would always have bands play at our frequent all-hands parties, including a great local cover band for our rooftop IPO party at Maggie Mae’s in 2010 and Styx performing for us after we were acquired in 2013,” Michalik says. “Our leadership team was really excited about a philanthropic use of the grant. And, it started a trend of Best of the Best recipients using their awards to support their favorite local charities.”

We caught up with Michalik to learn more about the band and the influence it had on Netspend’s culture. Read more in the Q&A below: 

How did you go about forming your band? What departments do your band mates represent?

Fifteen Netspenders have participated since we formed the band in 2017.  We have had several line ups.  We encourage different team members to join and contribute.  We have played Rock and Roll, Motown, and R&B / Soul music.  We typically have a core band of guitar, bass and drums and rotate singers and other instruments.

We have had members from many departments, including operations, product, project management, customer experience, and account management.  It has definitely created some camaraderie that otherwise would not exist.

How has having a band influenced Netspend’s workplace culture?

Netspend is a great place to work as indicated by the many well tenured people.  I have been at Netspend for close to 12 years and many of my colleagues pre-date me.  Being a member of the Mag Stripes has been a lot of fun.

In addition to playing in the battle of the bands, we have played a few all hands gatherings and played some local charity events where Netpsenders are encouraged to attend.  I think the band is a cool aspect of Netspend if you were to ask the average team member. At one point, we had an empty server room in our call center where we would get together and rehearse during the day.  Some of our customers calling in may have heard some live Motown music in the background, but that’s just a Netspend thing.

Do you believe you’ve benefited professionally from forming a work band? 

Yes, I was pretty introverted at work prior to the award and starting the band.  Very few Netspend team members knew that I played in bands frequently in Austin.  So, it really opened up some opportunities to meet and speak with various team members that otherwise would not have happened.

Does having a band make networking easier?

I am now a member of HAAM’s Pearl Society and often serve on their committees.  Austin is known for its local support of live music and through my expanded involvement, I have met various influential Austinites over the years.

Tell us about one of your favorite performance moments. 

My favorite moment was winning “best showmanship” in our first battle of the bands.  We put on a great 60’s rock and roll show at ACL Live.  We had a great lineup with back up singers, keyboards and a trumpet.  We brought a fog machine, dressed accordingly, and had a choreographed performance.  It was really fun.

Check out the Mag Stripes in action, performing “Colors,” by the Black Pumas.

ATC Announces New CEO Ahead of its 30th Anniversary

AUSTIN, TX — The Austin Technology Council (ATC) has selected acclaimed speaker, author and consultant Thom Singer as its next Chief Executive Officer, ushering in a new era for the local business council as it reemerges in a post-covid era and prepares for its 30th anniversary. 

Established first as the Austin Software Council in 1992 by the Austin Technology Incubator and IC2 Institute, ATC currently represents more than 200 companies, providing a platform for communication and value-based programming to lead, support, and connect those working within the tech industry, which represents nearly a third of the local workforce.

Thom Singer Headshot

Thom Singer, CEO, Austin Technology Council

Austin is known as a leader in the world of technology, and we cannot take that for granted,” Singer said. “I want to see ATC continue to be a catalyst for future growth and am seeking engagement from leaders who want to embrace the best parts of our tech community. We need expanded dialogue and collaboration to continue to lead.”

Singer assumes the executive role as ATC finds its footing again post pandemic, resuming full event operations, including its upcoming 30th anniversary celebration, Battle for Austin Tech, and introducing first-ever Austin Tech Awards, a series dedicated to honoring those who are shaping the future through technology and innovation. Companies with a local presence are encouraged to apply by July 1.  

Singer will also lead the organization in planning its annual CEO Summit, a single-day conference designed to prepare c-suite executives for the year ahead. This year’s keynote will be Sarah Jones Simmer, CEO of Found and former Bumble executive, preceded by a day of panel presentations on relevant industry and business topics. 

“Thom has made a career of helping technology companies and associations throughout and will be an inspiring leader for our community as technology continues to drive the Austin economy,” said Scott Francis, CEO and Founder of BP3 Global and chair of the ATC board.  “Who better to connect, network, and community-build than someone who has made a career out of helping other people make transformative connections in their professional careers?” 

Singer comes to the non-profit after more than a decade of work as a speaker and trainer on topics such as business relationships, networking, and leadership. He’s delivered more than 1,000 presentations, written 12 books, and hosts several podcasts. His background includes sales, marketing, and business development for Fortune 500 companies and entrepreneurial ventures, as well as executive search consultancy.

“Continuing to expand the sense of community that has done so much to define Austin’s tech industry will be challenging but crucial as companies face a more distributed and decentralized workforce, and I expect ATC to play a key role in that transition,” said Lawrence Waugh, CEO of Calavista Software and ATC board member. “I’m excited to work with Thom on that, I think he’s the perfect person to advance the amazing work that Amber Gunst (former CEO) has done over the past 4 years.”


The Austin Technology Council is a unifying voice and collaborative platform for innovation and technology, supporting the growth goals of its member businesses by providing knowledge and access in the areas of capital, talent, business mentoring, and networking. For more information, visit austintechnologycouncil.org.

Meet the Sustaining Sponsor of Gateway 2022

My biggest takeaway from today’s live conversation with FIS Senior VP of Marketing, Cory Treffiletti, is that the company is truly a giant hiding behind the curtain of the global fintech industry. 

Referred to by Cory as an “ingredient brand,” FIS fuels more than 20,000 brands and platforms worldwide and plays a pivotal role in day-to-day money movement, financial software and payment processing around the world. 

From powering bank software to smoothing the transition of money in the capital markets to simplifying merchant processes for businesses and consumers, FIS has fueled transformation across the fintech industry through its acquisitions, partnerships, and innovation. It is essential to the global economy and everything that happens from a fintech perspective, Cory emphasizes. 

Which makes me so curious as to why I hadn’t heard of them before joining ATC as a marketing director back in October of 2021. Cory says he’s hoping his recent move to Austin coupled with the continued fast growth of FIS as it emerges from behind the curtain to be more out-in-front will soon change all that. 

Want to learn more about FIS, sustaining sponsor of Gateway 2022? Join Cory, ATC, and hundreds of other local and visiting techies at our SXSW kick-off party, next Thursday, March 10 from 6-10 p.m. at Fairmont Austin. 

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