As CEO of $1.4 billion asset Blue Federal Credit Union, Cheyenne, Wyo., Stephanie Teubner is a member of a small club.
“I know most of the women who are [CEOs of credit unions] over $1 billion in assets,” she says.
While women hold the top spot at more than 50% of credit unions, the ranks thin considerably as asset size grows.
One of the best paths to large-scale leadership, Teubner believes, is starting at small organizations and working up in size.
Teubner graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1994 with a business degree and began her career in retail management before returning to the bank where she worked part time during college. She moved to $5 million asset Energy West Credit Union in Casper, Wyo., shortly after.
“I didn’t know about credit unions,” Teubner says. “I was a member of one through my dad but I didn’t understand the philosophy of it.”
As a single-employer credit union, Teubner says Energy West was “like a family. I got attached to so many of the members.”
She also became attached to the business itself, joining credit union trade groups. “Connecting myself to people at other credit unions has been invaluable.”
Typically, many credit union leagues offer “emerging leader programs for all levels of employees,” and Teubner recommends those opportunities to anyone pursuing a credit union career.
Industry involvement and education is a career-long strategy for Teubner. She serves on the board of directors for CUNA and the Western CUNA Management School, and earned her MBA in 2014 from the University of Wyoming while working at Blue Federal.
Collaboration with co-workers is equally vital.
She encourages all employees to join teams working on how Blue Federal can be more “purpose-driven.” Teubner believes this involvement should keep employees motivated and growing within the credit union.
Her own close collaboration with Maureen Tebo Wilkinson has helped propel her career. Wilkinson was the CEO of Warren Federal Credit Union, which Teubner joined after Energy West.
“She hired me, and I learned a ton from her,” says Teubner, who took over as Warren Federal CEO in 2005 when Wilkinson left.
A series of small and deliberate steps led Teubner into the billion-dollar CEO circle.
Blue Federal was established in 2016 after a merger between Warren Federal and Community Financial Credit Union. Organic growth, new branches, and acquisitions contributed to Blue Federal’s expansion.
With a purpose-driven strategy, Teubner looks for continued growth for Blue Federal, its staff, and her own professional development.