Whew! What I Learned at the CETNET Conference

I felt truly lucky when CUES opened their 2014 CEO/Executive Team Network (CETNET) event in Amelia Island, FL.  Here I was, part of a group of talented and inspiring people… preparing to deliver to them an overview of a project I had undertaken for the Next Top Credit Union Executive (NTCUE) competition.  Leading up to the event, I thought the learnings I would take away would be purely from my having to deliver a presentation to a large and intimidating audience. Little did I know how much more I would get out of this conference…

One of the most important things I learned at the CETNET Conference was how similar in culture Credit Unions are in Canada when compared to the United States (and vice versa).  Many of our goals are the same… and so are many of our challenges.  Of course, how we approach the goals and address the challenges depend on other, more local factors – but I was fascinated by the similarities.  This was made evident to me when, after I presented my project on how our Credit Union uses engagement (and fun) as a differentiator and competitive advantage, a number of Credit Union executives approached me to discuss how they’ve engaged in similar tactics or asked my opinion on what they were thinking of trying.  That was incredible!

I also learned that, although the people participating in the conference were mostly higher level, senior executives - the participants are human.  At the few sessions I attended, I learned they have similar fears and concerns about the state of the world.  They feel vulnerable with the changes we must experience and those we have no control of.  For me, a younger person considering a route that will land me in one of their seats in the distant future, it’s nice to know you can feel these things and still find tremendous success.

The CETNET event was incredible – my only regret is I couldn’t attend more of the sessions.  Of course, this was because I was taking part in the NTCUE competition… and I certainly don’t regret that!  

Until next time,

Alex Castley