Reflections and Gratitude

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” –Maya Angelou

This quote serves as a key message in my role as Chief Experience Officer (CXO) at Allegacy Federal Credit Union and the opening message in my first video submission for the CUES Next Top Credit Union Executive (NTCUE) competition. With the competition wrapping up only a few weeks ago, I’ve had some time to reflect on all that I learned—personally and professionally—as well as the lasting impressions or ‘feelings’ this journey has provided. 

First, I would be remiss to not express my gratitude for how Allegacy made me ‘feel’ during this competition. Participating in such an incredible competition would not have been possible without the help from so many, especially Allegacy’s leadership for nominating, supporting, and believing in me. In my blog submission, I wrote about the vision and leadership of our CEO, Ike Keener, and our executive management team. On a daily basis, this incredible team of leaders supports Allegacy’s mission to ‘help members make smart financial choices’ and does so through our Synergy culture. This type of collaborative, interdependence business model is what allows me to be successful in my role and have the privilege of sharing our story during the CUES NTCUE competition. 

In the spirit of Synergy, so many Allegacy employees helped make it all possible. From video work to ‘campaigning’ to technology support, I could not have done it without the help of teammates.  This is Synergy at its best—‘the interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.’  Synergy is what makes our efforts on member experience successful under our business model. 

The entire project, Mapping the Member Experience, would not be possible without one of our Synergy focuses—Talented & Educated Staff.  When sharing the project at the NTCUE competition, there was a lot of positive feedback about Allegacy’s bottom-line results (qualitative and quantitative) that supports our ‘culture drives results’ focus and initiatives. The results shared included successes in member surveys and satisfaction scores, loan growth, loan delinquency, and member growth. The outstanding numbers would not be possible without the work of all our employees and what they do on a daily basis for our members and internal customers/teammates. 

It was truly an honor to share Allegacy’s story and what we are doing to map the member experience with peer credit unions. We believe this is a scalable project and can provide bottom-line business results. I hope those who followed the submissions, blog post, and competition, found the information with what Allegacy is doing with culture, mission, and service they can apply to their credit union.

For me, I learned a tremendous amount during the competition as well as during the CUES Executive Team Network conference in Florida. During the competition, I had the privilege to follow other NTCUE finalists through their projects and the positive impact they are making on the credit union industry. Then, in Florida, it was an absolute thrill to meet and get to know the other four finalists and meet in person! Each of these outstanding individuals is extremely dedicated to the credit union movement and the impact their role has on their members. It was exciting to spend time with such dedicated, talented, and enthusiastic industry peers. 

This same dedication, talent, and enthusiasm permeated the crowd of industry leaders at the CUES Executive Team Network conference. As I shared during my ‘thank you speech’ (not so eloquently as I was rather speechless), the leaders—CEOs and executives—at the conference are mentors and inspirations for the next generation of credit union leaders to whom we turn for wisdom and guidance. The leaders at the conference exhibited a high level of professionalism that made all of the finalists (as we discussed it) ‘feel’ so welcome, comfortable, and proud to have the opportunity to network with such a fine group of individuals. 

Also, the conference itself, managed by CUES, was extremely well-run with a fantastic lineup of speakers. As a Tennessee native and Peyton Manning fan, hearing Archie Manning speak was a real thrill as he provided a number of powerful analogies from his football career that applies to the business environment.  One example was ‘getting back to zero’. Archie explained that he reminds Eli and Peyton to ‘get back to zero’ after each play as you cannot dwell on what has occurred but must focus on what is next. I correlated this to our front-line and call center employees. After a call, especially a challenging one, you must reset to ensure the next member is left to ‘feel’ very important and not the recipient of calling in after a previously tough call.    

In addition to hearing Archie’s presentation and having an opportunity to have a picture taken with him (and tell him what big Tennessee Volunteers fan my family is), there were other tremendous speakers who were able to provide me with takeaways and learnings that can be applied to what we do at Allegacy on a daily basis. 

Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank CUES, Currency, and DDJ Myers for managing and sponsoring the NTCUE competition. What an awesome international program to encourage credit union professionals, 35 and under, to get involved in the industry, network and learn from industry leaders, as well as grow professionally and personally during the process. Everything was so well run and everyone was extremely helpful along the way. I hope this program continues to grow with applicants and projects where we can all learn from each other. For those considering entering next year, I strongly encourage you to do so and/or nominate a peer. 

Thank you again to everyone, including my friends and family who made me ‘feel’ so special every step of the way, who supported me on the journey as the 2012 Next Top Credit Union Executive. This is truly an honor and a privilege and I look forward to sharing more about what we are doing at Allegacy through blog posts over the coming months.

Ashley