December 1, 2005
Who: Jane Wood
What: Executive vice president/chief operating officer
Where: Wescom CU, Pasadena, Calif.
How did you earn a 2005 Women in Business Award?
A number of years ago, state legislators from the Pasadena area, Sen. Jack Scott and Assembly members Dario Frommer and Carol Lui, created the
Women in Business Award to recognize women in leadership roles for their accomplishments in business and community. I was much honored to receive the nonprofit employee of the year award based on my 32-year career in financial services and community involvement.
Advice to CU leaders about contributing to their communities?
Credit unions represent one of the greatest value propositions available to consumers today, and at the same time they're often the best-kept secret. As credit union leaders, we have a responsibility to be visible in our communities so we have the opportunity to serve more people. By doing so we also contribute to the communities we serve and earn the privilege of being recognized as viable entities in our local business communities.
I think an important thing to strive for is to participate in a meaningful way, not just to participate for the sake of participating. At Wescom, we try to create many diverse opportunities for our staff so they can choose an activity that's personally meaningful and fulfilling to them.
What are the top challenges facing your CU?
Credit unions face many challenges today. Increased marketplace competition, criticism by bankers, and legislative issues all are potential challenges. For Wescom, a significant challenge will be to sustain a strategy of rapid growth and at the same maintain the foundation of service excellence that distinguishes us in our market.
What's your leadership style?
I strongly believe in the value of communication so I always want to be sure people throughout my areas of responsibility are well-informed and they understand how their work contributes to organizational objectives. I have high standards for quality. But I believe that people rise to the expectations we set for them, and when the standards are high they feel even better about the work they do.
What's one thing your staff probably doesn't know about you?
I don't think anyone who works with me today would tell you they think I'm shy. But I am. In recent years I have overcome that natural trait to a great extent. But it was something I had to consciously make a great deal of effort to overcome.
What was your first job and what did you learned from it?
My first career job was in banking. I started as a teller and I can't even begin to say all that I learned. Probably the most valuable thing I will always bring with me from that experience is knowing what it's like to be on the frontline. I have never lost sight of that and it heavily influences the majority of decisions I make today.
What's the best advice you've received?
A very valuable understanding to have is, 'I am responsible for myself. I am responsible for the work that I do and for my own happiness.' If anything in my life or my career is negative, it's up to me to fix it and it's up to me to sustain and build on those things that are positive.
An executive I know once said, 'Never love your company--it won't love you back.' I don't believe that.
I love what I do and I love the company I work for. I feel privileged to be a part of it and proud to influence what it will become. By valuing my contribution and giving me a great sense of accomplishment, [Wescom] loves me back every day.
What's your biggest strength?
I think that I usually find a way to enlist people to move toward a compelling vision that accomplishes organizational objectives and provides them with personal fulfillment.
Whom do you admire most and why?
There are many people I admire tremendously, some in my personal circle of family, friends, and business associates, and others who are well-known or famous. Those people have unwavering integrity, they generally have overcome some obstacles, they believe in hard work, and they have made a difference in their own lives and the lives of others.
What book are you currently reading?
I read a lot, both fiction and nonfiction. I just finished reading 'The Tipping Point,' 'Blink,'
'Freakonomics,' and 'The Kite Runner.' I have begun Patricia Cornwall's latest novel, 'Predator.'
What's your favorite way to spend a free afternoon?
I have more favorite ways to spend them than I have free afternoons. But it's always nice to spend time with my family, my grandchildren, and my dogs.
What's your pet peeve?
What's your hometown?
I don't really have a place I call my hometown. I've lived in a number of different places, but the farmlands of California's San Joaquin Valley is what I consider home, where I came from.