A judge’s perspective on the 2014 NTCUE challenge

Early in 2014, I was asked to judge the Next Top Credit Union Executive contest. My duties would include reviewing video and blog posts from the top 15 as we worked to the final five. I was eager to participate because in 2013, I paid more attention to the contest and was impressed with the process, the judges, the finalists, and the winner.

As the time to judge the 15 semi-finalists arrived, I began the process of reviewing the materials created and provided by the contestants. The variety of materials was striking. The quality of the thoughts and ideas was remarkable. I was impressed.

It was much more difficult to judge than I thought it would be. I used tools provided by Michael Berger of Currency Marketing and I also used a checklist of my own to keep my thoughts organized. When I felt I had the top five selected, I repeated the process from start to finish just to make sure I hadn’t missed something. The rewards of working through the materials twice far outweighed the cost of the time spent. After I had selected my top five, I sent my comments to Mr. Berger.

Time passed. Just before the CUES meeting where the winner would be selected, we were asked to review all the material provided by each finalist. Some of the review was repetitive, some was new. After that review, I had selected a winner.

Then came the presentations. The contestants did very well. Some were more visibly nervous but those nerves did not factor into my decision. The content of their presentations was very good. Some if it was more compelling to me than others.

After hearing the presentations, my mind was changed and I had a new order of finishers. I submitted my selections. As judges, we did not consult with each other on our rankings.

When Alex Castley was selected, I was excited for him. His project, video, blogs, and presentation were excellent. He is a deserving winner. To be honest, I think I would have felt the same way no matter who won. All of the contestants did a fine job.

Was it worth it to be judge? Absolutely. I loved hearing the various thoughts and enjoyed the process.

I applaud CUES for conducting the contest.