NextGen Leaders: Ally Haegele

Ally Haegele
Collections Specialist | $169 million Rocky Mountain Credit Union Helena, Mont.
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Watch Ally’s CUES Next Top Credit Union Exec video

Give us the elevator speech about your project (as in how would you describe your project to someone you meet in an elevator?):
I am excited to work each day at Rocky Mountain CU because I have two driving forces and motivations in my career: financial education and the credit union difference. I am always astonished at how many people don’t know the difference between credit unions and the B-word (banks), and I think that it is vital to the survival of the credit union movement that we market that difference. Thus was born my idea of a credit union financial fair: credit unions hosting one large charity-driven event that focuses on providing financial education in a fun and all-inclusive manner. This will be an event that can hopefully be developed into a state and national movement, where credit unions can really exude their motto, “people helping people.” As Henry Ford said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” By embracing credit unions’ innate cooperative mindset, we can gather for the greater good, and that’s really what it’s all about.

What is your long-term career goal?
My goal is to be a state credit union league CEO, so that I can be at the helm of promoting the credit union difference.

Fill in the dots: The future of credit unions will be bright if ...
… credit union employees and members, alike, promote and market the credit union difference. We need to educate our communities about the difference between us and our four-letter-word (bank) competitors to help everyone realize that credit unions are the smarter choice. Employees should embrace the fact that we are a cooperative, and be proud and motivated to come to work each day.

Online voters and a panel of past finalists narrowed the CUES Next Top Credit Union Exec field from 20 to the Top 15 applicants. The challenge, held in conjunction with DDJ Myers and administered by Currency, searches for emerging leaders age 35 and under from within the credit union industry.

The Top 15 will blog about their project.  And to provide additional value to the competition experience, they’ll each receive an executive coaching session from DDJ Myers, a CUES Supplier member and strategic provider. A judging panel of two CUES members and Deedee Myers of DDJ Myers will then score the Top 15’s applications and blog posts, narrowing the competition to five finalists.

The five finalists will receive additional coaching, airfare, accommodation and registration to CUES’ CEO/Executive Team Network™, Nov. 8-11 in Scottsdale, Ariz., where they will give their final presentations. The 2015 CUES Next Top Credit Union Exec will receive further coaching, airfare, accommodation and registration for two CUES’ CEO Institutes, a total prize package valued at $20,000

What my generation brings to the credit union movement is …
… a very unique motivation, both as employees and as members and, thus, a potential for growth. Based on research by the Filene Research Institute, “Almost two-thirds of Millennials said they would rather make $40,000 a year at a job they love, than $100,000 a year at a job they think is ‘boring.’” This desire to work in an industry we find exciting and meaningful, as well as living in a generation that is more conscientious of our global impacts, presents a wonderful opportunity for us to be recruited and retained in credit unions. Furthermore, that research also showed that “word-of-mouth recommendations are often 2x or 3x more preferred than among other generational groups” and that “Only 15 percent [of Millennials currently] use a credit union.” Those of us employed in the industry can thus market the wonderful difference credit unions make to our peer members, and we bring a substantial opportunity for growth to credit unions.

People consider me a leader because …
… I am innovative and goal-oriented. I learn new tasks quickly and can adapt to new situations, while coming up with creative solutions to problems faced. My detail-oriented, “question everything” attitude means, as well, that I think everything out before executing, but can still make important decisions quickly. I love a challenge, and I think that helps to motivate my team mates. When I presented my co-workers with the question of why I would be considered a leader, their responses were that I am “knowledgeable, thorough, competent, and committed to excellence, while still taking the time to give personalized attention and assist team mates.”

Who is your hero and why?
My hero is my grandmother. She was a single mother of three in the 1960s and managed to put herself through college and spent her entire life being a teacher: in school and as a parent and grandparent. She had an impeccable ability to focus her energies on helping others instead of on whatever struggles she may have been facing, to always try to “put herself in other’s shoes,” and to never accept excuses. I try to emulate her strength and perseverance in my own life, and believe in her saying that “it will be lonely at the top if you don’t build others up on the way.”

Who is a must-follow on Twitter?
@asmarterchoice, the Twitter handle of is a must-follow on Twitter because, as I mentioned above, credit unions need to market their differences to thrive in the future, and this organization is dedicated to just that.

Does your credit union have Twitter/Facebook/YouTube/Pinterest/LinkedIn/Instagram other social media accounts? Please provide links:

What is your favorite CUES member benefit? Or, if you are a new CUES NextGen member, what benefit are you most looking forward to using?
As a new CUES NextGen member, I am most excited about CUES Councils so that I can further build a network of other credit union professionals.

CUES Next Top Credit Union Exec team