Award Winner Isn't Above Mopping The Floor

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INDIANAPOLIS-Susan Ward is NAFCU's Professional of the Year for credit unions with assets of more than $150 million.

As SVP-COO at Finance Center FCU, she has helped lead cultural change. In the words of those who nominated her, Ward has taken the credit union from "good to great," not only in financial performance, but also in the service provided to members.

She also developed a comprehensive plan to refine the credit union's sales process and harness the power of marketing, including niche markets, to help the CU grow. Under her leadership the credit union opened a Hispanic Service Center, launching the beginning of the credit union's important ties with Hispanic organizations throughout the city.

Ward has also worked to develop a strong leadership team, removing silos and uncovering individuals' specific skills and talents. She shared her thoughts on leadership, and winning the award, with Credit Union Journal.

Credit Union Journal: What does it mean to you to win the award?
: I feel that every employee at Financial Center is worthy of this award. It has been gratifying and rewarding working with the talented and dedicated group of people here. And for those individuals to nominate me based on our combined achievements is truly humbling.

CUJ: You have worked at FCFCU for 24 years. What positions did you hold before becoming COO?
Ward: I have done so many jobs, which has given me a great perspective on the credit union. I have been a teller, loan processor, manager trainee, branch manager, AVP of operations, and VP of operations.

CUJ: You believe in leading by example, and despite your current role, you help your team in any capacity you can-including working weekend ATM duty to allow staff to have time off or mopping the branch floor before a grand opening. What is your philosophy on being an effective leader?
: If I have done my job correctly, other employees will work as hard and will be as committed to the credit union and the membership. You also have to surround yourself with talented individuals, and learn from everyone, regardless of their position. You must trust your employees to perform at their highest potential, and treat the membership with respect, regardless of their situation. You have to maintain profitable and controlled growth with measured goals. And most of all, you have to be able to laugh at yourself.

CUJ: Any other aspects of being a leader that are important?
: When you believe that you can achieve growth and profitability, employees will believe that as well.

CUJ: What do you like most about working at FCFCU, and the CU industry?
: The challenging work in a fast-paced environment and employees who are honest, dedicated, and driven to excel for the membership.

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