In 2015, Chelsea Oliver was a recent college graduate with no knowledge of credit unions. Earlier this year, the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council honored her with its 2018 Rising Star Award, which recognizes rising professionals with up to two years of experience in the credit union industry.
Oliver, marketing specialist for $49 million asset Corry (Pa.) Federal Credit Union, has made a big impact during her short tenure, overseeing a rebranding effort, website launch, and a redesign of marketing materials.
CU Mag: What’s your marketing philosophy?
Empathy always comes first. You have to know the person you’re serving, why they need what they need, and how to deliver that in the best way.
CU Mag: How do you incorporate empathy in your marketing efforts?
It’s easier to do at a credit union because people helping people is in everything we do. I like to focus on what a credit union is, what we do, and how we’re different.
We’re always giving back to the community, and Corry Federal is always there for the community. Empathy comes into that by knowing our members and what they need, and how to get them to live their best lives.
CU Mag: What’s your most effective social media outlet? We’re killing it on Facebook. Our members share just about all of our stuff and like what we post. I don’t think that’s too common for everyone. We’re in a small town, so we have that advantage.
CU Mag: Which of your projects make you proudest?
The first project I put on: Credit Union Week, where we focus on a specific small business or specific members. The theme for our first Credit Union Week was “people helping people,” and we bought lunches for 25 random people in a café.
Last year we did a “supermarket sweep,” where two of our members got to race around a grocery store and fill up their carts for free. We also asked members what their dreams were, and we picked five responses and gave $100 to each member. We showed three of them getting their prize on Facebook Live.
These are the most fun because they’re hands-on, and you can see peoples’ reactions to the work you’re doing.
CU Mag: How do you tackle big projects when you have limited resources?
I don’t believe there are limited resources; there are just resources you might not have considered yet. There’s always someone in your credit union, either a fellow staff member or an actual member, who’s willing to help with projects.
Or there’s always someone who’s willing to give money to your cause. You just need to know who to approach and how to approach them, and you’ll meet your goals.
CU Mag: What does winning the Rising Star Award mean to you?
I’m still processing that I even won. It’s crazy to me that in 2015 I didn’t even know what a credit union was, and then a little over two years later I’m getting an award for the work I was doing at a credit union.
Getting this award proves to me what I’m capable of professionally—and I hope it proves to my marketing professors that I was paying attention.
CU Mag: What advice would you offer other young credit union professionals?
Don’t be so cautious. I feel like, as a generation, we’re kind of holding ourselves back because we don’t want to step on any toes or ask the wrong questions.
You have to put yourself out there and ask questions whether or not they sound dumb. Take on big projects and go for it. The only thing holding us back is ourselves.
CU Mag: What’s the worst advice you’ve ever received?
“Don’t rock the boat.” I don’t know who said it, but I’ve heard that time after time: “Just do what you’re told.” That doesn’t sit well with me because I’m a person who likes change and likes to see things happen. I’m always rocking the boat.