Families Are a CU Industry Common Bond
I wasn't surprised when the emails started flooding in.
What about my friend and his brother?
You missed so-and-so and her dad.
You forgot me!
The fact that so many executives in the credit union industry are related was kind of the point to our Meet 7 Credit Union Families story.
Maybe a few folks grew up with credit union management ambitions, but I sure didn't, and I bet you didn't either.
So how did we get here? Many of our stories involve a family member who enthusiastically pointed us in the credit union direction.
I would have never found my way to credit unions if it weren't for my late Aunt Pat.
Imagine growing up in rural Kansas on a farm, only to discover while sending out high school graduation announcements that you had a long-lost aunt. And not just any long lost aunt – an artsy, cool aunt who owned her own business and lived in Los Angeles.
For a small town kid with big city lights in her eyes, I had hit the jackpot.
My aunt, Pat Kaye, owned a marketing agency named The Vivid Group that catered exclusively to credit unions.
Sometimes it was confused with another business in Southern California's San Fernando Valley by the name of Vivid. Boy, did she get some interesting misaddressed mail and wrong number phone calls.
Anyway, after my second year of college, Aunt Pat invited me out to L.A. for a summer internship. Somewhere between hitting all the Sunset Strip clubs with her executive assistant and being rejected by modeling agencies, I managed to pick up some skills writing credit union newsletter articles and designing statement inserts.
It was fun enough work and I enjoyed it, but when I returned to college that fall, I was sure my credit union and modeling days were over.
Eventually, after college, I found myself in L.A. again, looking for a job. In the early 1990s, the economy was only a little more accommodating to recent college graduates than it is today. So when I saw an ad in the L.A. Times for an entry-level credit union marketing position, I applied.
I’ll never forget the first time I walked into that credit union.
My first impression was, “no way, not now, not ever.”
I tend to mentally divide credit unions into two groups: regular and fancy.
Fancy credit unions have new headquarters buildings with modern, matching cubicle furniture and designer paint on the walls.
Regular credit unions are located in the basement of the legacy sponsor's tower or in a trailer on campus. None of the furniture matches and nobody remembers the last time it was painted.
When you’re an idealistic 20-something fresh out of college, you picture yourself in a fancy office.
I hadn't moved all the way from Kansas to California to work in a regular office.
But I really liked my future boss and everybody else seemed pretty nice, too. I could sleep at night knowing I wasn't marketing something that would rip people off. And like my parents taught me, beggars can't be choosers. At that point in my career, I was still a beggar.
So I took the job. My regular credit union upgraded to fancy, I spent some time at another fancy credit union, and eventually found my way to CU Times.
There's a twist to this family tale: My other aunt, Pat's sister Taffy, is an executive at Bank of America. Like many of you who also have relatives working “for the Dark Side,” we’ve had some interesting shop talk debates over holiday dinner tables.
But, I’ve also learned that credit unions aren't the only place a woman can advance; Taffy worked her way up at BofA, from a clerk with only a GED to her current high-ranking vice president's position.
At CU Times, we’re always looking for topics you’d like to read, especially those that aren't being covered elsewhere.
If you’d like to see more coverage of the family connections that bind us and make our industry special, let me know.
Send us your stories and photos.
When we collect enough, we’ll publish them. And we hope you’ll enjoy reading them.
Heather Anderson is executive editor of CU Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.