Marketing leaders striving to become CEOs should learn about other areas of the credit union, particularly finance, expand their skills, participate in industry groups, and “raise their hand” for projects outside of their scope of expertise.
So says a panel of (mostly) former marketers who are now credit union CEOs.
Moderated by Tansley Stearns, chief people and strategy officer at Canvas Credit Union in Lone Tree, Colo., the panel featured:
Their advice for moving ahead:
Display your passion. Webb’s love for her previous job led her to her current position.
“That love and passion spoke to others,” she says. “When you work with passion and love, opportunities will come your way. Love whatever you’re doing at the moment.”
Marketing is one of the credit union’s most important departments because it speaks to people and connects with members, she says. “The leadership team needs to be engaged in marketing and understand how we’re speaking to members and the community, and how we’re relaying the message of our brand. Marketing is the voice.”
Serve others. Marksberry recalls a turning point in his drive to become a CEO. “I always felt I ran faster and jumped higher than others,” he says. “Then my dad told it’s all about humility. It was a key moment in my career because I realized that being a CEO is about service to others, not yourself.”
He advises aspiring CEOs to be “hungry and humble. Be consistent, do your job extremely well, and then raise your hand and ask for opportunities to serve other people. You may learn that where you are is where you’re meant to be. Make it about serving others.”
Put tools in your toolbelt. Make yourself “wide and deep,” Marksberry says. “You can do phenomenal things, and your role is critical to our success, but you’ll do well to learn everything about the organization.
“Learn about what’s going on in accounting, internal audit, and retail and how to serve these areas,” he continues. It will make you that much more valuable to the organization and will lead to opportunities.”
Davis agrees. When no one at her previous credit union wanted to oversee facilities, she took it on—and turned it into a revenue producing area.
“Work with the CFO to make sure you’re contributing,” Davis says. “Demonstrating how you moved the balance sheet is critical to moving up the ladder.”
Participate in industry organizations. Go through CUNA Management School, become a Credit Union Development Educator, join a young professionals program, participate in league education and training—each of these activities will further your development and networking, Lindstrom says.
“Volunteer and do everything you can,” he says. “You never know who you’ll be sitting next to.”
Also, learn about your community and your organization.
“Learn from the mistakes and successes you’re having now,” Lindstrom says. “That way you can lay out everything you’ve learned along the way.”
Find your community. “Everyone has a special talent,” Davis says. “You need to find a place that’s receptive to your talents.
“If you’re rejected, find a place where you’re a fit. If you want to be CEO, keep trying.”