Emerging Leaders Need Your Voice: It Starts With a Nomination

And the winner of the 2015 CUES Next Top Credit Union Executive Competition is…..Jimese Harkley!

Over the course of six months, credit union young professionals engage in the exhilarating process of pitching programs or ideas that impact their credit union or the industry. Applicants write blog posts and produce short videos, while seeking the support of the public and judging panel to advance in the competition. After months of hard work and anticipation, a winner is finally named. Did I ever expect to win the title? No; but I would have never known, or had a chance, if someone did not take the time to nominate me.

For the past 7 years, CUES has partnered with Currency to produce a worldwide search for emerging credit union leaders. The contest seeks young professionals, age 35 or under, who have not reached the CEO level. DDJ Myers has sponsored the contest for several years, providing executive coaching sessions to candidates who reach the Top 15 level, and beyond, in the competition. The winner receives further coaching, airfare, accommodation and registration two CUES’ CEO Institutes. Total prizes are valued over $50,000!        


Has anyone come to mind?

Take a moment to think of the creative, inspiring young professionals whom you come into contact with. They may work in your credit union, or work within your league or association. You may even consider your professional peers or mentees. Or, what about that eager individual who has a great idea, but has no outlet to exercise it? You could be instrumental in helping someone forward their career by simply submitting their name.

In order to promote the importance and growth of the credit union movement, it is imperative that we embrace, mentor, and recognize the young professionals who will one day lead this industry. Recognition motivates people to give back and share the wealth of knowledge they have amassed over the course of their career. Young professionals may not have the time in or legacy of their predecessors, however they possess innovative ideas that seek to inject fresh energy and enthusiasm into the industry. These ideas may attract younger members to the credit union movement, replace outdated processes, or humbly highlight the professionals’ industry knowledge and leadership capabilities.

We are a part of a vibrant industry comprised of accomplished professionals and members that are committed to excellence. Over the next few months take the time to notice that person who seeks solutions and wants to be an asset to your organization and the industry. Consult with them about the benefits investing in recognizing them and highlighting their efforts to support your institutions mission and viability.

I would assume it is safe to say that acknowledgement is appreciated. While CUES works each day to ensure that current and future leaders are educated and prepared to make decisions that affect the financial lives of our members, there must be an arena for young professionals to celebrate their contributions. Why should our talented youth wait years for recognition when recognition is due?

My name would have never been called without receiving a nomination. I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity to promote my program, Community First, and my credit union on a national level. I can’t hold this title forever, but I am personally committed to attracting future talent to this amazing competition.

I encourage you to begin identifying your nominees now. The 2016 CUES Next Top Credit Union Executive contest is seeking nominations between April 26 and May 9, 2016.

Jimese Harkley