EUGENE, Ore. - Not all big credit union CEO jobs are going to former bankers.
The $725 million Oregon Community Credit Union has decided to promote from within. The CU has named executive vice president Mandy Jones, 52, to succeed longtime CEO Gordon Hoerauf, 60.
Hoerauf has been on sabbatical for the past six months, while Jones has served as interim CEO. Hoerauf plans to retire at the end of the year. Jones takes over on July 1 and Hoerauf will move down a step to the president position, with the primary objective of helping Jones make the transition.
Jones is a true credit union veteran. She started out in Electra CU in Portland, moved on to Wescom in Pasadena, Calif., before landing at Patelco CU for 22 years, where she worked under then CEO Ed Callahan.
There has been a lot of talk in the industry about a potential drought of CEO talent as more CEOs retire, and that more boards will look to banks to fill CEO vacancies. Oregon Community stayed inside the industry and went the succession plan route.
"It really was our succession plan, though they did a national search to get a chief operations officer back in 2001," said Jones.
Jones was the COO the CU hired back in 2001, after going through an exhaustive national search. She was named executive vice president in 2004 and has been in place to take over for Hoerauf.
The board did however consider a national search, but with such a strong person in-house, didn't see the need. "Mandy already has an intimate understanding of Oregon Community Credit Union's values," said chairman Don Thomas.
For Hoerauf, who has led Oregon Community through many changes, it's time to give back to other credit unions in a consulting role. "I'm looking forward to having time to be a hands-on volunteer with small credit unions as well as with local community groups," said Hoerauf.
Under Hoerauf, the CU changed its name from U-Lane-O. The U-Lane-O name came from the CU's educator roots, mainly the University of Oregon. Changing the name and expanding into a 10-county community charter was a dramatic shift in strategy for the CU.
Oregon Community is located in a heavily banker dominated region, with six of the country's largest banks having a strong presence. It also competes head on with OnPoint Community CU, formerly Portland Teachers CU, a CU with its exact same FOM. A few years ago, the two CUs reached a tentative agreement to pursue a merger, which would have created a multi-billion dollar CU. The deal eventually fell through over what was described as an inability to decide basic things, such as which CU's 401(k) to go with, which core processing system should survive, etc.
For Oregon Community the deal was all about one thing-branches. The CU wanted to branch out into the Portland market where its own surveys have shown many of its members, originally joining from the university, wind up working. The CU feared it lost touch with those members once they moved or started working in the Portland area. Merging with OnPoint would have given it an extensive branch network in the city.
With the merger off the table, Oregon Community is back to building its own branch network. "In the last year we opened up two branches in Portland, with two more again planned this fall," said Jones. Jones said Oregon Community CU's goal is to be Oregon's credit union. "Our whole purpose is to make a difference in our members lives, our employees' lives and the communities we serve. We pride ourselves on our excellent service and focus on members," said Jones. She didn't rule out a future merger with OnPoint or any other CU, though nothing is on the horizon. Interestingly, both CEOs that were part of the Oregon Community/OnPoint potential merger are now gone. Former OnPoint CEO Cliff Dias has been replaced by Robert Stuart, a former banker.
Jones said Callahan and Hoerauf were both mentors for her, but in different ways. "Ed Callahan was an amazing man to work for, and I learned a lot from him. We are very close now. Ed was more business oriented, I learned a lot of cost containment. Working for Gordon in a smaller organization, we really got down to the heart of the membership," said Jones.
Jones is an Oregonian through and through. She was born in Portland, grew up in Milwaukie and is a graduate of Oregon State. -firstname.lastname@example.org