No. 2: Identify Tomorrow’s Leaders, Today
Canyon State Credit Union ($196.9M, Phoenix, AZ) works closely with its local chapters of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and DECA, which prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in high school and college for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management.
“These are national career and technical student organizations,” says Jane Dobbs, Canyon State Credit Union’s CEO who also sits on the state board for the Arizona chapter FBLA. “Nearly every high school has one to help prepare students for future careers in business.”
Jane Dobbs, CEO, Canyon State Credit Union
Through FBLA and DECA, students compete in public speaking, business communications, game and app design, and more, according to Dobbs. Canyon State has tapped this talent pool for internships and summer staffing, and seven of them have stayed on as permanent employees.
“They’re on time, they work hard, and they want to learn,” Dobbs says. “These kids are like sponges. They are trying to make a difference in their lives and the lives of their families — they fit the credit union model perfectly.”
Dobbs credits a lot of the work ethic she sees in the students to their participation in career and technical student organizations, as they are required to work hard to be part of the organizations even as they carry a full-load at school.
“I’ve found these students to be very committed and loyal,” Dobbs says. “They are critical thinkers and don’t stress out as quickly because they are used to doing a lot at once. It’s a huge untapped pipeline of potential talent.”
As many credit unions struggle to find talent, she encourages other credit unions to reach out to the FBLA advisor at their local high school to connect with these highly motivated students.
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No. 3: Provide Comprehensive Training for Future Leaders
At HUD Federal Credit Union ($45.1M, Washington, DC), an internship and management training program helps college students and young professionals prepare for management positions in the credit union industry.
The three-year program rotates students through each department within the credit union — beginning in the member service/front-line area — and offers instruction on how to become a leader. CEO Bill Kennedy, who has used his own experience during an MBA capstone internship to start programs at several previous credit unions, brought the program to life at HUD FCU.
“Many of my peers fell into credit unions,” Kennedy says. “It wasn’t on our radar as a career.”
Bill Kennedy, CEO, HUD FCU
He sees his credit union’s program as a way to involve local colleges in the credit union industry and raise awareness among today’s young professionals. This is especially important because the number of planned retirements in the industry is set to increase in the coming years, Kennedy says.
The program at HUD FCU has earned a $10,000 leadership development grant from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and two scholarships for CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference and the Young Professional Advocacy Training Program.
Kennedy encourages other credit unions to work with local colleges and universities to recruit project-based interns before implementing a full-scale management training program. And when it comes to payment, the most successful internships he’s seen included both a wage component as well as class credit. Those were the programs that connected curriculum to the real world and coaxed a real sense of responsibility out of students.
“Those were home runs,” Kennedy says.
The CEO hopes his own program can become a model for others and hopes his seasoned trainees will end up at another credit union.
“Unless we grow, I know we’re going to lose 75% of our trainees,” Kennedy says. “If they stay in the industry and go to another credit union, that’s something I’d celebrate.”
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