Retirement Short As Crear Named CEO At WOCCU

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Pete Crear thought he was going to go play round of golf and catch the new "Star Wars" movie, right up until he announced he was coming out of retirement to head the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU).

"I really had planned to retire," Crear told The Credit Union Journal. "I had shined up my golf shoes and bought a whole bunch of golf videos. I thought this was it."

Crear retired earlier this year as CUNA's senior vice president of Association Services, the culmination of a 40-year career in credit unions that included serving as president of the Indiana and Connecticut credit union leagues. He replaces Arthur Arnold, who left in 2004 to return to his native Netherlands. Brian Branch had been acting CEO of the World Council, and will remain with the association.

"That gives me three weeks to do everything I wanted to do in my retirement," Crear laughed, referring to his June 20 start date. "Everyone asked if I was going to do a lot of travel, but I said no, I was looking forward to staying home for a change. This was actually the first week I had where I was just going to be home."

On The Road, Again

That's because even after officially retiring at the end of 2004, Crear took to the credit union speaking circuit, making his retirement look awfully similar to his full-time work. "When I first started with CUNA, I was traveling about 150 days per year," he related. "In the last few years, we worked to whittle that down to about 120, 110 days."

So, after pledging to become a homebody, it's ironic that he should take a job that, by its very international aspect, will require a whole lot of travel.

"I would expect that at the start, I'm going to have to ramp back up to about 150 [days of travel per year], but hopefully after the first year, I'll be able to pare back a little," he said.

It's not just golf and movies that Crear will have to put on hold, there's also a "substantial honey-do list" he had promised to work on at home. "I have to admit I didn't get a whole lot of that done," he offered. "But my wife knows my heart has always been with the World Council. In fact, Diane initiated the conversation. When she saw that the job had come open, she came to me and said, 'I know this is something you have always wanted to do, so if you still want it, I think you should go for it.'"

Like any wise man would, Crear took his wife's advice and has taken the only job that could have lured him out of retirement, he said.

"I have always had a special place in my heart for World Council, it's just a very special organization with a very special mission," he explained. "Ever since [then-CUNA CEO] Ralph Swoboda assigned me to be the liaison to the World Council, I have had a special affinity for this group. World Council was the only thing that could have brought me out of retirement."

With just three weeks before his start date, and then only another three weeks before WOCCU's annual meeting in Italy, Crear said his primary goal will be to "hit the ground running just as fast as I can."

"I have to get ready for the annual meeting, and while there, I want to gather as many credit union leaders together as I can to talk about the future of World Council to make sure we are pointed in the right direction."

Another priority, Crear said, will be to take a hard look at the International Remittance Network (IRnet), now that the company (Vigo) that provides remittance network's back-office operations is being sold.

Reexamining Relationships

"And I hope that in the latter part of the year we can look at some of the private foundations to see where their goals align with ours," he noted. "World Council does a lot of work with US AID, but we need to make sure that we aren't missing any other opportunities out there."

Crear had hoped that after his interview with The Credit Union Journal, he might still get a chance to see that new "Star Wars" movie, but the sound of his cell phone ringing could be heard in the background. "I've got a lot of people who are looking for me right now," he laughed.

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