‘Next-step’ networking

‘Next-step’ networking

CUNA Councils Mentor Match offers individual professional development opportunities.

October 30, 2019

The CUNA Councils Mentor Match program focuses the engagement of CUNA Councils members to a one-on-one level, providing a one-of-a-kind professional development opportunity.

An exclusive benefit of council membership, the program pairs experienced executives with those looking to build their competency, leadership skills, and networking contacts.

The councils developed the program to help people take the next step in their careers, says Dona Svehla, Lending Council mentor and senior vice president/chief lending officer at $2.1 billion asset GTE Financial Credit Union in Tampa, Fla. “This fine-tunes that process where we’re helping each other with industry knowledge and insight on an individual basis.”

Participants can choose certain tracks within a guided, six-month program to better align mentee needs with a mentor's expertise. Those tracks include:

  • Executive leadership—those in executive roles who wish to learn from experienced leaders.
  • Individual contributor to leadership—those contemplating or preparing for a move into management.
  • Role competence—those who want to perform within a current position at the highest possible level.
  • Interdepartmental—someone who works in a specific area/role but wants to learn about another area/role either to advance or for general career development.

Svehla meets over the phone with her mentee every two weeks. She says her  mentee provides a topic she seeks to learn about or improve upon and Svehla will gather information based on her experience and offer feedback at their next meeting.

“She asks me for direction and hopefully I can come up with a road map for her by the next time we talk,” Svehla says.

Taylor Murray

‘This is my opportunity to learn directly from someone outside my credit union who’s followed the path I want to take.’

Taylor Murray

Sharing the gaps

Taylor Murray, a CUNA Operations & Member Experience Council mentee and vice president of growth and opportunity at $2.3 billion asset Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union in Saint Paul, Minn., says he has highlighted two to three gaps in his career development plan that he is working through with his mentor.

CUNA Councils Mentor Match

“It takes a certain level of vulnerability to share those gaps with someone you’re just getting to know,” Murray says. “At the same time, my mentor has shared challenges he has had in his career that can help me on my career path.”

Murray says he hopes to be a credit union CEO someday. “This is my opportunity to learn directly from someone outside my credit union who’s followed the path I want to take,” Murray says.

Mentors also speak of the program’s positive aspects.

“This research helps me go down a path that I wouldn’t have thought for my own business,” Svehla says. “The questions she asks are really insightful. They make me think about things in a different manner, and put ideas on my radar that I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.”

Jason Lindstrom, president/CEO at $302 million asset of Evergreen Credit Union in Portland, Maine, and chair of the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council, also serves as a mentor.

“I’m big on networking as I’ve worked in the credit union system for nearly 24 years on both coasts. I’m always interested in what others are doing at their credit unions. Mentors have a lot to gain from this as well.”

Enrollment for 2020 Mentor Match will launch in the first quarter. Council membership is available now for 2020.