When I first started working for CU*Answers five years ago, I had never really had any interactions with credit unions. In fact, not only was it my first experience in the credit union industry, but also my first working with a cooperative.
Since then, I’ve enjoyed learning about how the cooperative model works at both CU*Answers and our credit union clients, and about my organization as a credit union service organization (CUSO).
Walking the talk
Our CEO, Randy Karnes, reminds us on a regular basis that we should walk the talk. So, when I started working at CU*Answers, I opened a share account and took out an auto loan from a CU*Answers affiliated credit union. Having never had a credit union account before then, I was somewhat surprised by the ease of account opening and getting a car loan. I realized that small credit unions can be just like bigger banks.
Sadly, the industry consolidation monster gobbled up that credit union, which merged into one off system. And so, I would start looking for another CU*Answers client credit union so that I could continue to be an active user of our organization’s products and services.
It was at this time that I wondered how I could contribute yet more and learn about our clients. When an unexpected opportunity came along, I jumped at the chance. A co-worker is a member of the board at River Valley Credit Union in Ada, Michigan. RVCU was looking for associate board members to learn about their credit union and to prepare them to be board members should an opening become available.
I opened an account at RVCU and took out a new car loan. As before, this was an easy process and the people at the credit union were once again friendly and helpful. When the opportunity presented itself, I signed on as an associate board member, and I’m glad I did so. Not too long after that, I became a voting board member when one of the previous board members resigned.
A welcome surprise
As a former business owner, I’m interested in the challenges faced by credit unions and in how they operate. Starting as an associate board member provided the knowledge I needed to be a voting board member. It’s a privilege to get to vote at the board meetings, and I take the responsibility seriously as there are jobs at stake. And more importantly, we’re responsible for the wellbeing of our members’ money and information.
Our last board meeting provided a big surprise. It was our annual meeting where we would decide who would fill the various board positions. I’m happy to say that I am now the board chairperson. That was really quite unexpected, and I hope that I serve the board and credit union members well.
Walking the talk has been good advice for me. I’ve learned a great deal about our clients by volunteering as a board member. I enjoy discussing the operations and challenges faced by RVCU at our board meetings. I highly recommend you volunteer for your board.