Trailblazing Duo Working at Second CU
Two executives who shared CU Times’ Trailblazer Award for Lending in 2011 moved on to work for another area credit union – but not before one of them did an 18-month stint at a national bank.
At the time, John Corona and Timothy Hero, both employees of the then-$389 million Generations Federal Credit Union, won the award for cooperating to make a business loan that involved a real estate purchase for long-term members and entrepreneurs. Corona served as senior loan officer for the San Antonio credit union and Hero served as Generations’ real estate lending officer.
Even though Generations had never offered loans with the Small Business Administration before, Corona and Hero paired their talents and research and found a way to help the members get the small business loan they needed through an SBA program. Then, after they completed and closed the loan, when the NCUA came in and conducted an examination, the agency had found no problems with it–an additional success for the lending managers.
Roughly two months after the February 2011 award ceremony, Hero was hired by the now $5.9 billion Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union, where he is now an account executive in that San Antonio credit union's real estate services division.
Hero discounted the award's role in necessarily getting him the job, but acknowledged it helped draw attention to his skills without making him work too hard to market them. Hero describes his work marketing real estate services now as similar to what he did for Generations, only without as much emphasis on loan origination.
“I meet a lot of Realtors and other professionals in the real estate industry to let them know about how Randolph Brooks can assist them or their clients,” Hero said, adding that his current work is a little less stressful than his work at Generations, but that the stress is different.
By coincidence, Corona also wound up at RBFCU, but took a more meandering path. After remaining with Generations longer than Hero had, Corona surprised others and even himself by taking a job with a national bank.
“I had always heard bankers talk, you know, about how credit unions really didn't do real banking and didn't know how to do what bankers do,” Corona said. “I guess when the opportunity came up I just decided to take the job and show them.”
Corona admitted he lasted 18 months. While he declined to say anything bad about his former bank employer, whom he declined to name, or his former colleagues, Corona said the atmosphere was just not the same.
“It just had a different emphasis,” he said, adding that he particularly remembered the first meeting of a loan committee he attended. In many ways, it felt similar; loan executives met to discuss loan applications and make decisions. However, where in a credit union loan committee, the emphasis had been on the member and what the impact of the loan might be on the member, the emphasis in the bank meeting had been first on profitability, how much money the loan under discussion might make for the bank, Corona explained.
“I am not criticizing that. In a for-profit bank, it's right they focus on profit. But that wasn't me as much,” he said.
Corona gave some of the credit for winding up at RBFCU to Hero who, he said, had kept in contact with him and kept urging him to work for the credit union.
Corona credited the Traiblazer Award for helping him focus on what has turned out to be an enduring value in his work, the focus on the member. “I think back on my remarks at the ceremony,” Corona said. “Our most important people are our members.”