SAN FRANCISCO (7/2/14)--A group of young credit union professionals were treated to a nice surprise Tuesday on Day 2 of the Credit Union National Association's 2014 America's Credit Union Conference, when their Young Leaders Series session was combined with the larger Executive Series group.
Echoing several other young professionals at the table, Andrea Dickinson, Iowa Credit Union League member outreach coordinator, says it was a very valuable experience to sit it on the Executive Series session. (CUNA Photo)
The session, directed by Monday's keynoter and Extreme Leadership guru Steve Farber, unfolded into an open discussion among a roomful of top credit union leaders, which provided this green group a great deal of insight into the types of challenges the people they're striving to be in this industry face.
"It's a great experience to sit a table with CEOs, hearing the questions that were being asked today," Jen Laud, director of marketing and innovation at First Financial CU, Chicago, with $67 million in assets, told News Now. "It's really interesting because ... you see what's important to the people sitting in this room, what's at the top of their minds what's coming up for them."
Added Andrea Dickinson, Iowa Credit Union League member outreach coordinator: "To think about the longevity of our leaders in this industry is quite remarkable. To get to glean some of those insights is very valuable."
The leaders in the room fired off a volley of questions at Farber ranging from how to deal with the painful process of downsizing, to how to grapple with the roaring tides of changing technology, to how to stay positive at all times, but at the same time keep employees accountable.
The answers Farber returned likely provided useful information to the young credit union professionals about being a leader now and into the future, but even the questions themselves carried value.
"Everyone has questions, no one has all the answers," Joshua Smith, advocacy officer for SchoolsFirst FCU, Sana Ana, Calif., with $10.3 billion in assets, told News Now. "So it's not only reassuring, but it also gives you confidence to ask some questions."
Joshua Smith, advocacy officer for SchoolsFirst FCU, and the rest of the Young Leaders group listen intently as Steve Farber answers tough questions from credit union executives during an Executive Series session Tuesday at the America's Credit Union Conference. (CUNA photos)
Naturally, with a table full of young professionals sitting in on the conversation, the question was raised about how to engage, and eventually pass the torch to the younger generations.
Farber's answer was that current credit union leaders should actively seek out the young people in their organizations, share advice and insight and offer them opportunities in leadership roles as well, all with the hope that they will one day grow into individuals who are capable of running operations themselves, and perhaps become even more successful than those who taught them.
"(You should say) look at those folks, they are much better leaders than I was ever able to be," Farber said.
Hearing this issue debated was not lost on the group about which the executives were discussing.
"When one of the questions is 'How do we incorporate this younger generation into the next movement of leaders, how do we make that happen?'" Laud said. "It's awesome to hear a question like that come up."
The session was the first of three Young Leaders Series sessions. The second one on Tuesday covered challenges and opportunities, and today's final meeting focuses on insights and engagement.