The five finalists in CUES' Next Top CU Executive contest are awaiting the final voting results after having made their last pitches to the crowd at CUES CEO/Executive Team Network conference. The winner will be announced Wednesday, Oct. 26, the final day of the event.
Cu Currency President and Creative Director Tim McAlpine served as the emcee during the final presentations. McAlpine noted the five finalists were culled from a total of 236 nominees. The contest is now in its seventh year, and it was the first time someone from every state of the union was nominated for the competition.
Shannon Cahoon, Fibre FCU, Longview, Wash.
A 27-year-old community outreach coordinator for the $967 million Fibre FCU is making a business case for providing a financial education program.
Tracking the ROI of Financial Education
Cahoon is developing a turn-key, comprehensive system to monitor and measure a credit union’s financial education program to prove the profitability of these efforts. The Next Top CU Exec finalist added that “the beauty of it is that with a few simple adjustments, this program can also be used to measure the ROI of your community outreach efforts, business development program, second chance accounts and more.” Learn more about Cahoon’s plan here.
Ali Fett, Verve CU, Oshkosh, Wis.
The 35-year-old AVP of talent development at the $760 million Verve is pitching how a whimsical, yet concrete reminder of a CU’s mission can lead to a strong culture of servant leadership.
The Jar!
Fett demonstrated how her credit union is using this jar as a visible daily reminder to get and keep employees engaged from the moment they’re first brought on board and every day thereafter. Inside the jar: a bucket, symbolizing how people “fill each other up” and the power of words; a goal post, representing the importance of giving each other clear guidelines; a puzzle piece, celebrating each person’s natural talents and a ladder and penny, symbolizing flipping a coin and asking good questions before making assumptions. “We know when organizations have engaged team members, they perform four times better financially,” Fett said. Click here to learn more about Fett’s plan.
Nicole Haverly, Affinity Plus FCU, Saint Paul, Minn.
The 30-year-old senior portfolio manager at the $1.8 billion Affinity Plus is focusing her efforts on helping consumers save money to prevent them from heading into the downward spiral of payday lending.
Savings Accelerator
This program is paired with a loan in which the borrower receives a reduction on the interest rate and then puts aside a small amount automatically into higher-yielding savings account each month. The idea, Haverly said, is that by the time the member repays the loan, the member will have a substantial accumulation of savings. “Today, too many Americans rely on the payday lending industry, and many live paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “This downward cycle of debt can be transformed into upward financial freedom once our members learn how to save by paying themselves first.” Click here to learn more about Haverly’s plan.
Michael Murdoch, NW Priority CU, Portland, Ore.
The 34-year-old marketing specialist at the $236 million NW Priority is hearkening back to the industry’s roots by seeking to help at-risk youth succeed by giving them a safe place to learn about finances.
People Providing Hope
Murdoch’s project is to create a comprehensive financial education program that targets at-risk youth ages 16 to 24 by working with groups of alienated and disaffected youth to not only teach them about personal financial issues but also to help them gain banking skills and work experience in the process. “Remember, the very first credit union members weren’t noblemen or aristocrats,” he said. “They were at risk themselves; peasants, refugees and outcasts. As institutions built on the belief that everyone deserves a fair shot at life, credit unions have the philosophic responsibility to develop and implement financial education coursework for those who have no societal voice and who desperately need our help.” Click here to learn more about Murdoch’s plan.
Colleen Tilton, Blackhawk Community CU, Janesville, Wis.
The 34-year-old director of staff development at the $440 million CU has been tasked with improving Blackhawk’s employee development program by putting together “academies” for different specialties that will allow employees to serve members better while improving their own income potential.
Learn to Earn: Our Transition to a Learning Organization
As part of Blackhawk’s strategic plan, Tilton is developing a plan to create strong career paths for employees such that they can focus on mastering certain skills and be rewarded for doing so while also giving them the skills and experience they need to further their careers at the credit union. “My big audacious goal for the plan envisions our credit union as a premier employer in our community,” Tilton said. “Our member experience is our No. 1 priority, and we recognize that we are only as strong as our employees who serve our members.” The credit union will measure the success of the program by monitoring employee turnover, internal promotions and enrollment in the program. Click here to learn more about Tilton’s plan.
Following each presentation, the three judges had an opportunity to ask follow-up questions. Serving as judges this year are Ashley Kohlrus, COO of Allegacy FCU, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Matt Levandowski, CEO of Heritage Family FCU, Rutland, Vt.; and DeeDee Myers, CEO of DDJ Myers, who also provided executive coaching for the five finalists.