Networking for success
‘Members are not just a number.’
Nick Woodard faced a tough challenge in 2013 as he jumped at the opportunity to become CEO at $61 million asset United Savings Credit Union in Fargo, N.D.
He was just 31 years old with eight years of experience in the financial services industry.
“It was a large undertaking,” Woodard says. “But I was so excited for the new challenge.”
One of his first projects: Overseeing construction of a new 6,000-square-foot main branch in downtown Fargo, a project first envisioned as a simple remodel with new carpeting.
“Downtown Fargo was undergoing a renaissance, and the project kept growing in scale for a number of good reasons,” he recalls. “One board member told me, ‘That turned out to be real expensive carpet.’”
Woodard has been active in credit union industry groups throughout his career, including the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas (CUAD) Board and CUNA’s Small Credit Union Committee. He’s also board chair of the Dakota League Services Corp.
In 2017, CUAD named Woodard—still one of the youngest credit union CEOs in the Dakotas—its Credit Union Professional of the Year.
“I’ve tried to be a sponge when I’m around other credit union professionals. It’s so important to be involved,” he says. “The networking and the feedback you get from these colleagues are so valuable. You have to network to make your credit union better.”
During Woodard’s tenure as CEO, United Savings’ assets have doubled. The credit union has updated its technology, overhauled its online presence, introduced mobile banking, launched remote deposit capture, completed a debit card conversion, and added business lending.
“For consumer loans, we put in a risk-rating system,” he says. “One of the big factors is the number of years a member has been with the credit union. That should count for something.”
The credit union has also expanded its community sponsorships and charitable activities, from cooking and serving meals at the Ronald McDonald House to holding backpack drives for schoolkids.
“Members are not just a number,” Woodard says. “You take care of your members, and you help the community.”