Over the 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.
Previously, our Top 10 members were all voted into place. However, we felt that applicants from smaller credit unions or with smaller networks sometimes were overlooked, despite having great project ideas. We made changes, and now the five applicants with the most votes move on, and a special judging panel adds five other applicants to make up our Top 10.
We choose our three judges for the panel from amongst our alumni of former competition finalists. This year, two 2016 finalists, Michael Murdoch and Nicole Haverly, joined 2015 finalist Kris Wanner as they took on the role of judging all of our applicants. We caught up with them to ask some questions about their experience as a Top 10 judge. Except where noted, we’ve blended their responses below.
What was your previous involvement in the NTCUE?
Michael Murdoch: As a 2016 finalist, I got to show off my project in Savannah, GA. “People Providing Hope” was a comprehensive financial literacy program designed to serve under-privileged youth in Portland Oregon. Learn more about Michael’s project idea.
Kris Wanner: I was a 2015 finalist, and also a Top 15 (as it was at the time) judge in 2017. Learn more about Kris’ project idea.
Nicole Haverly: I was honored to be part of the 2016 NTCUE competition, where I was a member of the Five Finalists with my project idea “Savings Accelerator”. In addition, I have been a huge supporter of the program and cheer on the applicants each year! Learn more about Nicole’s project idea.
1. Why did you agree to judge the Top 10 this year?
"The NTCUE program is a valuable venture and one, which I truly believe any young CU professional with a passion for this industry, should apply for. While I may not have taken the NTCUE crown, I did make some fantastic connections. Being involved has served not only to enhance my career, but has also opened doors, provided a wonderful experience, and has further honed my skills as a credit union professional. I have a soft spot in my heart for this competition and so agreeing to judge the Top 10 was a no-brainer."
"I wanted to pay it forward as a previous NTCUE participant as well as support those who are growing in their individual and credit union journeys."
"I agreed to judge the Top 10 this year because this program means so much to me, as I was able to learn, grow and meet some pretty amazing and inspirational people along the way. I want to contribute in every way possible, and this was one manner in which I could."
2. What was the most surprising thing about the judging?
"The scope of the ideas within the competition, as well as the reach in which it has. From the nomination process through the applicant stepping forward, you truly see how vast the credit union system is worldwide."
"I think the most surprising thing was how well the ideas aligned with the socio-economic issues in our world today, and how so many of the applicants are extremely passionate about the ideas that they presented, with bravery and curiosity."
"I’ve watched this competition pretty closely the last few years and I must say I am consistently surprised about those one or two ideas that elicit the, “Why didn’t I think of that?” response. I am genuinely proud of these applicants and when a project consists of something so simple, so easy, yet is comprised of elements that credit unions simply aren’t implementing, I am indeed surprised. Those ‘a-ha!’ moments just get me."
3. What was the most difficult thing about the judging?
"Not choosing them all! In all honesty, each entry was so unique, so choosing the top ideas that were a balance between the need for a solution in our industry and the ease to duplicate the idea or product across the country. That was the most difficult thing."
"Well I hate to sound like a grandparent but I want everyone to win. I have to remind myself that as a credit union advocate and as a NTCUE judge, however, these ideas don’t have to end here at this competition – they have every opportunity to continue and to grow."
"Comparing and contrasting the different elements that goes into each applicant and their ideas. It took more than a few reads/watches of each applicant to really narrow down the field. It’s a strong group."
4. What was the best part about the judging?
"I LOVE seeing ideas at work and especially from our fellow young professionals (although I am not so young anymore). There are few things more satisfying than to dream a dream; put that dream to paper; put that paper to action; watch the flow begin; then start counting those smiles."
"Seeing each applicant tell their credit union story and add their own personal flair to each idea they presented. The video portion is always a favorite of the competition as it give the applicants an opportunity to bring their personality, passion and flair to their submission."
"The best part was being inspired by all the applicants—their stories, their pleas, their ideas, and their passion to help transform and improve our industry and the lives of our members. Each applicant's entry was inspiring, and it was refreshing to see the young professionals who will lead our industry now and the years to come."
5. What would you say to others who are asked to judge the NTCUE Top 10 in the future?
"Say yes, think globally, and have fun! After I would view an entry, I would sit back and envision this idea in credit unions across the country, and what that could look like. It was such a fun experience!"
"You’re a credit unioner so take advantage of the opportunity to dig deeper into the competition and see the other side of it while impacting those in our industry and communities."
"Consider this an honor, because it is! Be involved, encourage tomorrow, enlighten others with your input, and don’t be afraid to represent yourself as a trusted credit union professional. You are in many ways grooming the future leaders of this industry. NTCUE is a fine program and one, which I hope to see thrive for many years to come."
The Top 10 have now been through a second panel of judges, and a Final Five were announced on August 22. Look for a future blog post where we’ll introduce the Final Five judges who will play an integral role in helping select the 2018 CUES Next Top Credit Union Exec at the CUES CEO/Executive Team Network conference in Nashville.
CUES Next Top Credit Union Exec Team