Bags packed, pre-work complete, excitement on high

It’s been nearly a year since I got the email saying I had been nominated for the CUES Next Top Credit Union Executive competition, and I can’t believe the journey it has been since that note came through. (P.S. Whom will you be nominating this year? Nominations open May 1!)

Months of preparation, anxiously awaiting the results of each phase of competition, and finally having my moment on the big stage in Savannah last October, have ultimately led me to this weekend. I will shortly be boarding a plane to attend week one of the CUES CEO Institute, at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

In the week before “Week One”, I have been busy hosting a nearly 400-student, 5-session Financial Reality Fair. When not explaining the concepts of monthly expenses and credit card debt to high school students, I’ve been reading the pre-work prescribed for the Institute. I go to bed at night with visions of key financial ratios dancing in my head, and wake up with excitement about the sessions I get to attend – like Strategic Influence and Persuasion with Mario Moussa, and Leadership and Decision Making with Michael Useem.

Upon first review of the class roster, I found myself thinking, “You might be a little out of your league here, sister.” But then I spoke with the incomparable DeeDee Myers, who reminded me that when I walk into those conference rooms, I am there as an equal learner. Titles and egos go out the window – we are all there to learn, equally, together. That insight helped me focus and prepare myself for the week ahead – not as a giddy, anxious attendee, but as a qualified learner who is ready to get all that I can out of the week ahead.

Education has always been a high priority for me, and something I view as a privilege. I like to spend my time doing things I’m good at, and call me a nerd – but school is something I have always been good at. I’m looking forward to this week of immersive, hands-on, intensive learning. I’m looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, after this week is complete. I am fully committed to the projects required to earn my CCE – Certified Chief Executive – designation. (Freaking LETTERS behind my name, people!)

Mostly, I am grateful for the opportunity, and amazed by the journey it’s been to get to this point. I take full bags and an open mind, and look forward to reporting back to you, post-Wharton.