Two events made Jason Lindstrom the credit union stalwart he is today.
First, he worked as a part-time teller in college.
“Coming into that environment, I noticed right away how much help we gave members, and that we were on a first-name basis with them,” he says. “That job was far better than flipping burgers.”
Second, Lindstrom happily pursued a degree in business marketing until he ran into a major barrier: calculus. He wasn’t good at it, and he knew he would never master it.
“So I shifted to political science, a major that was helpful when later on I had to deal diplomatically with politicians on both sides of the aisle at the state level as a credit union representative,” says Lindstrom, CEO of $270 million asset Evergreen Credit Union in Portland, Maine.
Lindstrom’s stints with credit unions in California and Virginia involved financial analysis, outside sales, and business development that gave him career-forming insights.
“I was turned off by the financial industry’s focus on becoming wealthy,” he says. “I also saw that one of the greatest things credit unions provide is a check and balance to banks.
“Without credit unions offering the rates and services they do to members, banks would quickly exploit the vacuum with higher rates and fees.”
Lindstrom has a knack for high-tech that he honed in his stint with the Filene Research Institute’s i³ innovation program.
“I worked for two years looking for better, faster member service solutions, especially lending,” he says. “Mortgages, for example, require an immense amount of paperwork. We should simplify that process for members.”
He now is working on improving Evergreen’s already well-known, world-class member service culture, developing a stellar team, and being an active participant in the credit union movement.
As hard as he works, Lindstrom praises those he works with: “I’m a team builder who has surrounded myself with good people.”
As a result, Evergreen has the lowest employee and board turnover rate in its history.
Lindstrom never forgets what members go through.
“I’ve been there—had my debit card declined and experienced fraudulent use of my name,” he says.
Thus, his mantra: “Always put myself in members’ shoes.”