After more than 40 years with First Missouri Credit Union in St. Louis, President/CEO Steve Ogolin plans to retire in January.
During his tenure, Ogolin ushered First Missouri through a name change from St. Andrew Credit Union and into the 21st century by adding debit cards, 24/7 account access, and an expanded network of branches and ATMs.
CUNA News: Tell me about your background and what led you to First Missouri.
Ogolin: I grew up in and around credit unions. I appreciate their “people helping people” philosophy and felt credit union employment would be a good way to make an honest living while benefiting others.
I started my credit union career at St. Louis County Government Employees Credit Union (now County Credit Union in Clayton, Mo.) as a teller with changing responsibilities over time. By the time I left, I handled everything except collections—similar to the position of vice president today.
Q: What was the credit union like when you started 40 years ago?
A: At our St. Andrew parish office, a typical Friday would bring members lined up out the door to deposit or cash their payroll checks.
Back then, everything was done manually. We served the parishes of St. Martin of Tours, St. Andrew’s, and the Franciscans. The biggest issue we faced was growing the membership.
Technology changed a lot for the credit union, both internally and for the members. With direct deposit, checking accounts, and online banking, members always have access to their credit union accounts.
With the passing of time, we’ve also seen increased regulatory requirements.
Q: What are some highlights from your career?
A: With the support of my volunteers and staff, we were able to offer our members debit cards in the late 1980s and provide them with phone center access in 2000.
First Missouri offers its members cutting-edge technology in a friendly, professional, welcoming environment.
Q: What have you learned about leadership during your time at First Missouri?
A: Leadership is a lot more challenging than it appears, but I have learned that being open and fair is the best approach.
Q: What advice would you offer other leaders about running a successful credit union?
A: Always do what is right for the members. Be transparent and honest, and put the members first.