At the branch or on the road, Paul Speight believes endurance, not speed, will get young professionals such as himself where they want to go.
When Speight joined the Virginia Credit Union League Young Professional Network, he hoped to do just that—network. Yet when the branch manager for $1.6 billion asset BayPort Credit Union in Newport News, Va., attended his first meeting, he was surprised to discover only credit union board members attending. A seat on that board opened up a few months later, and Speight was a natural and eager candidate.
“I hopped on board,” he says.
He pitched the idea of having regional gatherings so young professionals wouldn’t have to traverse the state to attend. He secured a modest budget so he could amp up the social element of the gatherings. A free taco bar at a microbrew pub followed the first event he planned. More than 20 credit union employees attended from around the state.
Speight made sure he served substance with salsa.
Pre-event communication instructed attendees to bring credit union financial data from NCUA. The guest speaker, a BayPort vice president, walked everyone through return on assets, loan-to-share, and other key ratios to provide a better understanding of overall operations and to demonstrate how individual employees fit into the numbers.
Inspired by Speight’s work, the Virginia Credit Union League recently hosted a Connect 2017 Conference for this audience. It’s critical to give early-career professionals a big-picture view, Speight says.
“There is a talent gap,” he says, noting that many credit union leaders have been in their roles for dozens of years. This has created awareness to develop a leadership development program and mentoring opportunities to support the knowledge transfer necessary to prepare this group to take over.
“I want to keep the good talent we have, and give them some more exposure,” he says.
Speight recognizes advancement can be a waiting game. So in every interaction, he reminds up-and-coming credit union professionals of the value of patience.
He says, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,”—an apt analogy for an avid runner who aims to qualify for the Boston Marathon as he completes his sixth marathon this fall. “That’s been my story. I’ve slowly stuck it out and waited. With time, opportunities came.”