William “Bill” Kennedy isn't afraid of a challenge. In fact, he seeks out underdogs, often in turn becoming the underdog himself.
“Credit unions are in every state and city, and yet, we sometimes are the best-kept secret and often compete as the underdog,” Kennedy says. “However, I really like being the underdog. It gets me motivated.”
Kennedy saw opportunities when he took on the position of CEO at $47 million asset HUD Federal Credit Union in Washington, D.C. When he came in, Kennedy called the credit union a “turnaround situation.” Kennedy relied upon his know-how and became a coach to his team.
For the first six months, he assessed the employees, their responsibilities, and their competencies at the credit union. “I impressed upon them that they’re the CEO of their own personal services corporation, which requires developing an entrepreneurial mindset—which in and of itself implies ownership,” explains Kennedy, who’s been in the credit union industry for three decades.
He also played the role of an orchestra conductor. “I needed to determine what instruments were missing and sought to fill them with seasoned players,” he says. “I also bring in unseasoned players who—if coached and mentored—have the potential to successfully occupy various chairs.”
After two years with Kennedy at the helm, the credit union has experienced three consecutive quarters of positive critical growth measures, which include net income, membership growth, and loan growth.
Kennedy has a history of helping small credit unions turn things around. Small credit unions “are in the battle of their lives to stay relevant,” Kennedy says.
He’s transformed many credit unions by meeting one-on-one with team members, tailoring his coaching style to fit unique personalities, and creating a personal vision and game plan that lines up with the credit union’s goals.
When he’s not serving as a credit union whisperer, Kennedy can be found hitting the links in golf charity events or traveling with his wife, Ann. But his mind never strays too far from his credit union work.
“When you work in credit unions for awhile, something gets in your blood,” he says. “It’s the ‘people helping people’ philosophy, and it aligns really well with who I am commissioned to be.”