Jacob Barnett was the kid who asked “why?” about everything. “It drove my parents nuts,” he says.
But that innate curiosity turned out to be beneficial to his professional career, and a real asset to TTCU Federal Credit Union. During his ascension from teller to branch operations manager at the $1.75 billion asset credit union in Tulsa, Okla., Barnett has always found a better way to do things.
For example, he started an outbound lending program that has generated $20 million in loans for the credit union during the past three years and has potential for significant growth. And he led an educational program that all of the credit union’s front-line branch staffers completed—CUNA’s Financial Counseling Certification program. Now, TTCU branch staff are better equipped to offer members financial solutions—and that speaks to Barnett’s mindset.
“Personally, the way I operate, I look at our end game and how we can improve our results,” Barnett says. “For example, at a couple of our branches we had branch managers who left the organization; just typical turnover. I stepped back and asked if we needed branch managers at every location.
“If we had a branch manager that was successful at one location, wouldn’t it make sense to have that person manage more than one location and leverage that success more widely, if we could do it efficiently?” he asks. “We started managing our staffing differently. We now have two managers that each manage two locations.”
Barnett worked at a bank in college, an experience he says he didn’t enjoy at all. “It wasn’t anything against banks. It was just a very sterile environment,” he says. “I didn’t feel like I was doing anything special.”
At the urging of a family friend, he interviewed at TTCU, one year out of college. He accepted a teller position, though he didn’t view it as a longtime career.
Needless to say, he feels like he’s doing something special at TTCU. “Like a lot of things in life, it was just about meeting the right people,” he says. “People were very friendly here, and I was given the opportunity to learn. I’ve grown with each opportunity I’ve had here.”