Above: CUNA Tech/OpSS Council Conference Crashers meet with Sunday’s keynote speaker, John Foley. The former Blue Angel pilot shared his experiences as a Navy pilot, a Sloan Fellow at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and an entrepreneur.
Digger Kurt, a financial data analyst at $1.3 billion asset Dupaco Community Credit Union in Dubuque, Iowa, is making the most of his experience at the CUNA Technology/Operations, Sales, and Service (Tech/OpSS) Council Conference, and “soaking up knowledge like a sponge.”
“Before I came here, a coworker told me to be ready not to sleep,” said Kurt. “That’s what you do when you get back on the plane at the end of the conference!”
Kurt and his cohorts are attending Tech/OpSS this week in Orlando as participants as “Crashers,” an innovative program by The Cooperative Trust, in partnership with CUNA, that provides scholarships for up-and-coming credit union professionals to attend industry conferences.
“Our Crashers attend eight to 10 events each year,” says James Marshall, manager of The Cooperative Trust. “We’ve attended the CUNA CFO Council and CUNA Lending Council conference, and we are in the planning stages to hit the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council Conference in 2016.”
Marshall says the original goal of the program was to be a “focus group” for the needs of young credit union members. Over time, the objective has evolved into one focused on retaining the best and brightest young talent within the credit union movement.
“As a Crasher, this gives me an opportunity to collaborate with my peers, hear some great ideas, and focus on being innovative,” says Corrie Rozell, branch and marketing manager at $163 million asset Marshall (Mich.) Community Credit Union. “Sometimes it’s hard to be heard as a young professional.”
“Through this program, I get to collaborate with other professionals who are dealing with the same stressors and challenges I deal with every day,” Rozell continues. “It reignites your energy.”
Antonio Lopez, of $510 million asset Mazuma Credit Union in Overland Park, Kan., agrees.
“There are so many people with a lot of great ideas here,” he says. “It’s nice to come here, meet new executives who are willing to reinvent, try new branding initiatives, and even redo their culture.”
Charles Kinsey, a network technician with $2.1 billion asset Spokane (Wash.) Teachers Credit Union, appreciates the unique opportunities afforded by the Cooperative Trust program.
“It’s a fulfilling experience,” Kinsey says. “We have more intimate exposure to senior level management as Crashers. Wearing the badge, it is an invitation for people to approach me. It makes networking easier.”
The CUNA Tech/OpSS Council Conference concludes on Wednesday.