Meet Our Top 15 Judges

Over the last seven years of the CUES Next Top Credit Union Exec competition we’ve consistently made efforts to make it more interesting, more equitable and more valuable to all participants.

One of the ways we’ve done that is to institute a Top 15 judging panel. For the past few years, the Top 15 have been chosen by a judging panel made of former winners, finalists and Top 15 members. This year was no different as 2014 winner Alex Castley from Integris Credit Union in Prince George, BC, 2010 finalist Jodi Chambers, who is now with CUs inSync in Saskatchewan, and 2011 Top 15 member Matt Monge, who is now the founder of The Mojo Company in Kansas City, Mo., joined forces. They had the difficult task of choosing five applicants from our entire applicant pool to join the 10 applicants that received the most votes from the public. These applicants then made up our Top 15. 

What does it take to be a Top 15 judge, and why did they agree to take on the role? We asked Alex, Jodi and Matt for their thoughts on becoming a judge. 

1. Why did you agree to judge the Top 15 this year? 

I agreed to judge because I believe this competition is a great way for young leaders to develop their skills as thought leaders on a large stage. It is an opportunity to formulate a proposal, execute a project, engage with others and present in front of a large audience. The competition exposes young leaders to an international stage of leaders—both young and experienced. The learning opportunities from this network alone can change a person’s career.

2. What was the most surprising thing about the judging?

I was surprised how hard it was to narrow down to five—I found it easy to get to around 10 but then found it especially difficult to further narrow. Every year, the quality of the applications increases; it seems like the video-pitch quality overall has gotten better and better.

3. What was the most difficult thing about the judging?

Trying to assess an individual and their idea without having the opportunity to engage with them was very difficult. Video only tells a part of the story, and it’s hard to judge based on it. That said, a longer video isn’t the solution. The best project pitches seemed to be those who stuck around the three-minute mark and summarized their ideas in a clear and concise manner. As well, because we know very little about each credit union within the videos and since the Canadian industry is so different from the U.S. industry, it was difficult to judge if the proposal/project would significantly benefit the credit union industry or just the individual’s credit union.

4. What was the best part about the judging?

Having the opportunity to watch some of those very creative videos; the ones who really took the time to develop an interesting story and visuals to tell it. I give great credit to those folks who did more than sit behind a desk to share their idea. 

Seeing a large number of those individuals I felt were strong make it through to the Top 15; I felt I had a part in their journey.

5. What would you say to others who are asked to judge the NTCUE Top 15?

I would definitely encourage folks to give of their time. It was a reasonable ask, very fun and educational and I firmly believe it is part of our responsibility to give back to a program that changed me and my career for the better. Do it!  You have an opportunity to have an impact in moving the industry forward!

The Top 15 have now been through a second panel of judges, and a Final Five were announced on September 8. Look for a future blog post where we’ll introduce our Final Five judges who will play an integral role in helping select the 2016 CUES Next Top Credit Union Exec at the CUES CEO/Executive Team Network conference in Savannah, Ga.