Lauren Hofmann enjoys a challenge.
“I thrive on finding a solution,” she said. “Problem-solving is a passion for me.”
As credit card coordinator in the Bursar and Treasury Services Division, she helps people across campus find more resourceful ways to handle their finances.
“You can buy a credit card terminal and accept credit card payments, but I want the process to be as effective and efficient as possible,” she said. “It’s really about getting to know the departments and what they need.”
Payment card industry compliance is Hofmann’s biggest role. She’s responsible for making sure all of the university’s payment card transactions fall within state and federal regulations. One of the things she likes most about working in compliance is that there are constant changes that keep her to-do list full.
According to Hofmann, compliance starts when any college, school, unit or department sets up a process to accept credit card payments. They must fill out a merchant application that explains how they plan to take payments and the projected volume of payments. During the process, Hofmann helps them understand the lingo—ecommerce, in-person and in the field versus behind the counter. She gets to know them and takes any preferences under consideration. After that, she works with a qualified securities assessment company and gets the department set up through UGA’s merchant processor. She then works with procurement and legal affairs to make sure the contracts are compliant. The department then fills out a self-assessment questionnaire documenting its information on compliance.
All of that information is reassessed annually and compiled into a yearly statement of compliance sent to UGA’s merchant processor. Hofmann has guided more than 120 merchants on the three- to six-month setup process and also helps with yearly training requirements and vulnerability scans.
Hofmann is happy to help any college, school, unit or department with setting up credit card processing, even when she’s presented with challenges. For example, she found a way to implement credit card processing on Sapelo Island, working through several phone line and internet connection issues. She’s also leading a project to move to point-to-point encryption for in-person payments, which she hopes to implement within the next six months.
The point of all of Hofmann’s work is to make things easier for her customers. Departments can use their time more effectively when she can help them find a way to integrate in-person and online payments into one system or adjust inventory as soon as a purchase is made. Her efforts to help others haven’t gone unnoticed—Hofmann received Finance & Administration’s Customer Service Merit Award in 2019.
“It’s a good day when you’ve found someone who is frustrated and you can solve their problem,” she said. “It’s humbling to realize you touch more people with your work than you imagine.”
Hoffman knew early on she wanted to work in the financial field. In fact, her first job was as a bank teller at 16. Later on, she also worked the reception desk at a doctor’s office, managed a tanning salon and sold wedding gowns.
In 2005, Hofmann earned her bachelor’s degree in business management from Georgia Southern University and then went to work for her family’s food manufacturing business. A few years later, she started considering other career paths in that field. She spoke with some of the vice presidents at Southeastern Technical College in Vidalia, where she was born and raised, and took a job in procurement.
“It introduced me to the different aspects of governance, rules and regulations,” she said. “It really formulated who I was and how I navigate projects professionally.”
In 2016, her husband, Russell, accepted a new job in Athens, so the family, including their three children, moved to Athens. Once they were settled, she applied for what became her job.
“We took a leap of faith,” she said. “I applied for one job at the University of Georgia and came to one interview, and I was sold. It felt like home immediately.”
When she’s not at work, Hofmann enjoys spending time with her family, which also includes two dogs, and is active in her homeowners association. But more than anything else, she enjoys helping others.
“I give a good pep talk,” she said.