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.