CREDIT UNION LEADERS SHOULD cultivate teams so individuals can flourish in life, not just at work. That’s a principle that drives Michelle Hunter, senior vice president of marketing and development for Credit Union of Southern California (CU SoCal) in Anaheim Hills.
“As leaders, we’re in unique positions to help others see their value and inspire them to leverage their God-given talent,” she says.
Hunter works to develop her own talent as well as the skills of those she supervises. She sees this as key for delivering CU SoCal’s brand promise: helping members live better lives.
“We achieve this first by getting the right people in the right seats,” she says. “We create an environment where employees feel they matter and are a part of doing important work. These team members will be more engaged and, in turn, will deliver great member experiences. Members will share their positive experiences with family, friends, and co-workers and will continue to trust and turn to CU SoCal. The result is that we make a positive difference in the lives of others, retain top talent, and become a nonnegotiable financial partner in the communities we serve.”
Hunter enjoys her own role because she can be creative, take calculated risks, and work with talented, passionate people who share her vision while inspiring her to deliver her best.
“Our mission is to build better lives through world-class service and convenience,” she says.
She often recommends to others this interpreted advice from Galatians 6:4-5: Make a careful exploration of who you are and what you’ve been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.
She tries following that advice by making meaningful contributions and “knowing that I worked hard, gave it my best, and made a difference.”
And down the road when she retires, she wants to be remembered as a leader who had strong character, convictions, and “a purpose lived with passion.”
The next generation of credit union leaders should be hungry and open to new opportunities, according to Hunter. “Know that failure isn’t fatal. Learn from your mistakes and move on.”
She hopes credit union leaders now and in the future can overcome the challenges the industry faces.
“Our industry is laden with legislative burdens even though lawmakers admit that we haven’t been the problem and are generally the ‘good guys,’” Hunter notes. “Although we just reached 100 million memberships, our movement still suffers from a lack of awareness, particularly among the younger generation."