Top traits of technology leaders
From left: Rudy Pereira, Sharon Moseley, Samantha Amburgey, and moderator Willis Chang.

Top traits of technology leaders

‘Have a passion to achieve and do more.’

September 19, 2019

While today’s technology leaders can adroitly deploy current and emerging technologies within their credit unions, other traits—such as passion, communication, and collaboration—are even more important to their long-term success.

According to a panel of credit union leaders at the co-located 2019 CUNA Technology Council and Operations & Member Experience Council Conferences in Chicago, a combination of technology and business acumen will take technology leaders far in their careers.

‘Be more of a leader and less of a subject matter expert’

A passion to achieve and do more—someone who can advance things that add value.

Samantha Amburgey

Samantha Amburgey

Also, someone who’s personable that you can work with. As an IT leader, you don’t want to be the person who always says “no.”

Instead, help your peers to prioritize. There’s a nuance to these conversations. You don’t want to get a reputation as someone who shuts things down.

Find ways to enable the business units to achieve their individual goals and the overall credit union objectives, and make people feel safe and secure.

Talk about, “how can I bring value to your team? What do you want to achieve, and how is it related to the whole organization?”

Help people understand you’re trying to help them achieve their goals. Try to anticipate the needs of business units and understand their strategy.

Learn what is important to them and care about their objectives.

Technology leaders don’t need to be solution providers in detail—in fact, I don’t want them to be. They need to develop interpersonal communication and leadership skills.

Be more of a leader and less of a subject matter expert. You should use your analytical abilities to evaluate technology advancements against the needs of your organization and recommend a vision and path to move the credit union forward.

Also, IT leaders need to live and breathe credit unions, not just technology. The best leaders recommend strategies and tactics that speak to the specific needs and culture of their organization.

Samantha Amburgey, CIO, Michigan State University Federal Credit Union in Lansing, and a member of the CUNA Technology Council Executive Committee.

NEXT: ‘Walk in the shoes of the people you’re leading’

‘Walk in the shoes of the people you’re leading’

I look for people with insatiable curiosity and a desire for improvement. Being willing to learn is an important part of being a technology leader.

Ask yourself, are you working to lead or being invited to lead? If it’s the latter, it shows you’re a vital team member.

Rudy Pereira

Rudy Pereira

You need to reach out to other people. You can’t do it all yourself.

Technology leaders have an important role because they work across the organization. They need to drive a consistent experience and stay up to date on business issues. It’s a massive job.​

Walk in the shoes of the people you’re leading. It provides great insight into the issues they have—very important.

Rudy Pereira, president/CEO, Premier America Credit Union, Chatsworth, Calif., and chair of the CUNA CEO Council Executive Committee.

NEXT: ‘Understand the credit union’s strategy’

‘Understand the credit union’s strategy’

I agree with Rudy that curiosity is extremely important. It’s all about incremental improvement, and folks who are continuously curious always want to learn more and do more to improve their organization.

Understand the credit union’s strategy. That’s essential to your success.

Sharon Moseley

Sharon Moseley

When you truly understand why you’re taking on certain initiatives and what the business outcomes will be, you can then make the right technology decisions.

You need to measure results in order to see the return on investment of your efforts. Without that, you won’t know whether you have made the best technology decisions.

IT is in an enviable position because you see every area of the business, and that provides opportunities to support the strategy.

You really need a good understanding of what the credit union does and be able to tell the story of IT to help the rest of the organization know what IT is all about.

Another key trait is empathy—know what people are dealing with and doing. We should always be striving to make it easier for people to do their jobs.

Sharon Moseley, senior vice president/CIO, Kinecta Credit Union, Manhattan Beach, Calif.