Risk leader tackles uncertainty
Risk management is in Shaundra Warren’s wheelhouse.
Shaundra Warren was recently promoted to the executive leadership team at $1.8 billion asset Sharonview Federal Credit Union in Indian Land, S.C.
The Buffalo, N.Y. native, who joined Sharonview as assistant vice president of loss mitigation in 2016, continues to serve in her role as senior vice president of risk mitigation, where she oversees the loss mitigation and risk management teams and provides executive guidance on decisions affecting Sharonview Federal’s strategic vision.
She shares insights into her role, loss mitigation and risk management, and what she does outside of work.
Credit Union Magazine: What’s your role at Sharonview Federal?
Shaundra Warren: I started out in loss mitigation and worked my way up through the organization. Loss mitigation is where we work to mitigate the risk of losses to the credit union. But taking on risk management, compliance, fraud, and things of that nature was in my wheelhouse.
My role is to socialize enterprise risk throughout the organization and build a risk-based culture that people both understand and can execute.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face in your role?
A: I’ve worked toward having an impact across the organization. But having a seat at the table to add some diverse thought to leadership and what they do here is important for me.
One challenge is to learn enough about the other business areas in the organization and how they operate so I can continue to add value. It’s a broader scope and an opportunity to discuss important issues at that level.
Q: What are the biggest risks facing Sharonview Federal and how are you mitigating those risks?
A: Reliance on wholesale funding is a risk. We continue to actively look for ways to reduce our reliance on wholesale funding. As it relates to wholesale funding, the risk is in the pricing. Brokered deposits are often more expensive than organic deposits, leading to an increase in the cost of funds and squeezing of the credit union's net interest margin.
We’re forward-thinking and looking at new opportunities, new channels, and opportunities to bring in new revenue.
The economic markets continue to change and that’s always going to have an impact on rates, borrowing, and things of that nature. It’s important to understand the impact to the organization and having strategic plans to be more fluid and more flexible.
Q: How has the pandemic affected your risk-mitigation efforts?
A: The pandemic has really stretched our ability to respond to working from home. Many organizations had to make that adjustment on the fly.
This adds some risk relating to infrastructure, technology, and keeping connection, but also understanding that connection now means from the homes of 200-300 employees working from home outside of our branch team. Our challenge is staying connected and mitigating the risk of impact and technological challenges related to emails, communication, infrastructure, and networks.
Q: What advice would you offer other risk leaders?
A: Understand the business and the organization. We can get into a thought process where we’re too risk averse rather than mitigating risk and taking on new opportunities.
Be a part of building out infrastructure that supports mitigating risk. Be in the know, have a seat at the table, and have great relationships. That’s paramount in any leadership role, but it’s more important in risk mitigation.
You want to have relationships so people understand what you’re trying to do and why it’s important to have policies, procedures, and mitigating factors to prevent any real detrimental impact.
Q: What’s your approach to leadership?
A: This is the area that I get giddy and excited about. Until now, I lacked true leadership and support. I’ve had the opportunity at Sharonview to report to some absolutely wonderful leaders, and more so people who invested in me as a leader.
I’m passionate to give that back. I’ve been tasked with leading our assistant vice presidents and vice presidents in more tactical and strategic conversations around the organization. I’m truly passionate about being a coach and a developer of other leaders.
Q: What else excites you professionally?
A: I’m a member of a group called the Credit Unions Collections Professionals. We started this four years ago on the East Coast because there weren’t many learning opportunities for loss-mitigation leaders.
It’s important that we continue to evolve as the economic environment evolves. Being part of that has also broadened my skills outside of Sharonview and has broadened my partnerships with other credit union leaders.
Q: What’s the best vacation you’ve ever been on?
A: I am a mom of five, and vacations are few unless they’re huge family vacations. But my husband and I like to get away to Las Vegas, which is interesting because I’m not a huge gambler but I love to shop.
The fact that there’s ample shopping in Las Vegas definitely does it for me. I like to spend time there, and my son works in the hotel industry so we meet him there regularly.
Q: What do you like to do outside of work?
A: I grew up playing basketball, and I’m a sneaker collector I fell in love with sneakers playing basketball, and to this day I’ve collected about 200 pairs; mostly Air Jordans, Air Max, and shell-toed Adidas. I hunt them down, buy them, sell them, trade them, all of that.