Recruiting and retaining top talent in the information technology (IT) field is growing increasingly difficult, said three executives at the CUNA Tech/OpSS Council Conference.
To combat this trend, they said credit union senior managers need to consider new and innovative approaches toward keeping top talent on board. They also shared the challenges they have in finding and retaining talented staff.
The panel discussion was moderated by Brian Kidwell, executive vice president at D. Hilton Associates, an executive recruiting firm.
“Do everything you can to keep good talent,” said Kidwell. “You basically have three options: live with a revolving door of staff, outsource most of your IT activities, or retain your best people.”
Kris Hanson, vice president of technology at $1 billion asset Inspirus Credit Union in Tukwila, Wash. (formerly School Employees Credit Union of Washington), tackles this challenge through a home-grown approach toward people development.
In the greater Seattle area, Inspirus must compete for talent not only with other financial institutions but also with innovative corporate giants such as Google, Microsoft, Boeing, and Amazon.
"We see a great pool of talent coming from our front lines," said Hanson. "We’ve always outsourced managed services, but we want to control our own destiny so we’re developing talent from within.”
Charlotte Morrison, chief information officer at $1.5 billion asset Texans Credit Union in Richardson, Texas, has long taken an in-house approach.
She, too, is faced with a superheated employment market in the highly competitive Dallas-Fort Worth region, which is home to about 10,000 corporate headquarters, including behemoths like Texas Instruments, Raytheon, and AT&T.
“We start our newest employees on the help desk, which gives them exposure to the whole credit union,” Morrison said. “Then we provide them with training and a development plan to help them grow their careers.”
“IT folks are motivated by certifications and titles. You need to talk to your CEOs. IT talent is different, and you have to pay for it,” Morrison said.
As an IT credit union service organization, Open Technology Solutions is constantly searching for qualified IT talent.
“I sit on the boards of several tech startups,” said Scott Preble, chief technology officer at Open Technology Solutions. “This provides me with market knowledge of which local companies are expanding or merging. I primarily use my own network to recruit.”
All three panelists agreed that work-life balance is a major selling point for recruits.
“A lot of these tech companies have outstanding perks,” Hanson said. “But we need to understand why chefs are coming into Google to provide free meals. It’s because the employees are working all the time.”
“It’s tough to compete with the likes of Google, but we need to leverage our competitive advantages. Credit unions are fun, full of nice people,” Preble said.