Jason Ford

The impact of digital services

COOs take a holistic view while integrating marketing and IT.

January 24, 2019

As chief operating officer (COO) for $53 million asset Harvester Financial Credit Union in Indianapolis, Jason Ford leads the lending, compliance, and operations teams.

But Ford, a member of the CUNA Operations & Member Experience Council Executive Committee, believes COOs must position themselves for change and challenges, regardless of their credit union’s asset size.

Look for information technology (IT) and marketing to continue to become more interconnected as credit unions add and enhance digital services, he says.

What's the future of the COO role?

Ford: It depends on the size of the credit union. For example, I’m responsible for lending and compliance in addition to operations. But larger credit unions often have separate departments for these functions.

‘The COO role will touch many areas, including IT and marketing.’
Jason Ford

The COO of the future will have to be well-versed in most areas of the credit union or risk falling behind trends affecting credit unions.

How about the tools and skills?

Ford: It’s no longer enough to allow an IT department or IT company to largely handle integration between a core system and digital products and services.

COOs must have more than a general understanding of how digital products and services interact with IT and what it will take for them to peacefully co-exist. I have learned so much about IT in the past two years.

The ability to effectively lead people, while certainly not a new skill, will remain critically important.

CUNA OME Council

The CUNA Operations & Member Experience Council has published a new white paper, “Agility: Facing Constant Change,” available free to Council members. Learn more here.

The COO role will touch many areas, including IT and marketing. I believe the role will become more encompassing, especially with the continued growth of digital platforms and services, and the use of digital marketing.

These areas are more interconnected now.

What will be different in the daily routine?

Ford: We’ll approach our day-to-day role with a much more holistic attitude as opposed to making decisions in a silo.

This means you can expect to see departments working together as a result.

What's your advice for fellow COOs?

Ford: Learn as much as you can about as many areas in your credit union as you can.

No department operates in a vacuum. Decisions you make can and will affect other areas.