EXCEPT FOR SOME brief stints in retail, Tobisha Bullock has spent most of her professional life in the credit union industry, including a stint as a high-school intern.
Four years ago, after working six years in another credit union’s ATM-Visa debit card department, a manager told Tobi that CAANO Employees Federal Credit Union in the New Orleans suburb of Kenner, La., was looking for a CEO.
Why not submit an application?
“I’d never heard of CAANO, but I took the advice and applied for the job.”
She quickly landed the CEO position at the 65-year-old credit union, whose select employee groups primarily were established high-income Federal Aviation Administration and New Orleans Weather Service members from nearby New Orleans International Airport.
Bullock’s new position immediately involved intense, hands-on work. CAANO is a very small credit union, with $2.7 million in assets. On paper it’s a two-person operation, but one new employee is part-time—which means Tobi quickly had to become a self-described “Jill” of all trades.
A typical day finds her working on accounting, member services, lending, compliance, and more—including work on her third and final year at Southeast CUNA Management School.
“CAANO has a built-in advantage in terms of an affluent, mostly middle- age membership that has been with us for a long time and appreciates our services,” she says. “They’re likely, even in retirement, to maintain contact with us. So the next step for us is getting our members’ teen and twenty-something children to join CAANO and stay with us because of the same high level of service.”
The credit union’s size gives Tobi one small relief from her myriad tasks. When she networks at conferences, although she picks up good policy pointers from other credit unions, “I’m able to immediately cross off activities or services that larger credit unions offer.”
One of them is mortgages, which for now she’s happy not to have on her plate (although she outsources the service).
But as she looks for ways to reach out to members’ children, offering mortgages is very much in the plan.
Next on her to-do list is a resolution to quit work at a decent hour to go home.
When asked if “decent hour” meant knocking off at 9:30 p.m. instead of 10:30, she laughed—the kind of laugh that means we weren’t too far off the mark.