Jackie Buchanan has led Genisys Credit Union through substantial growth during her seven years as CEO of the $2.1 billion asset CU in Auburn Hills, Mich.
She recently discussed her technology background with Credit Union Magazine.
CU Mag: How does your technology background benefit you as a CEO in this climate of change?
Buchanan: I’ve always said that I think the credit union is a technology company because technology touches everything we do. As a CEO, I’ve always been able to see how important technology is for us and how important it is to invest in it. It helps me in making the right decisions when considering whether to partner to launch a project or develop it in-house, just because I have that background. It’s also very difficult to fool me and tell me something can’t be done.
CU Mag: What tone do you set for staff?
Buchanan: I try to foster an environment of continuous improvement. I ask a lot of questions. Initially, I think people were offended that I asked so many questions, but a lot of the questions are an effort to keep learning. Without continuous improvement, you can’t keep offering your members the best products on the market. Both listening to people’s concerns and then taking action are important. You shouldn’t be surveying your employees if you’re not going to actually act on the responses that come in. We’re very big on that—keeping our commitments, doing what we say we’re going to do, and keeping people informed.
CU Mag: What qualities do people with technology backgrounds need for leadership roles?
Buchanan: One of the most important capabilities is learning the numbers side of the business. Learn the key ratios—what good ratios look like, what bad ratios look like, and what feeds into those ratios. Understand the components of the balance sheet and the income statement, and how information technology feeds into all of that on a daily basis. If you want to be a CEO, you have to understand the financial side of the business.