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<p>SAN DIMAS, Calif. – WesCorp cast a large, nationwide net in its search to replace retiring CEO Dick Johnson, but it found its new CEO very close to home. The WesCorp Board selected Bob Siravo, president/CEO of the $1 billion Travis CU, Vacaville, Calif., as its new leader. Siravo is no stranger to WesCorp. From 1993 to 1997 he served on WesCorp’s supervisory committee. He has been on the WesCorp Board since 1997 and was serving as chairman since May of 2000. When Siravo officially became a candidate he went on a leave of absence from the board to avoid any conflicts of interest. Siravo didn’t become an actual candidate until late in the search process, according to Jim Updike, president/CEO of Honda FCU, and WesCorp’s new chairman. (Updike was serving as vice chairman while Siravo was chairman.) The search began last November. Updike said there were literally hundreds of applicants. The WesCorp search committee whittled the list down to five (not including Siravo) by the time CUNA’s GAC took place in late February. Siravo came in shortly after the list of five was compiled. “When we looked at the top five candidates we felt that there were some absolutely phenomenal candidates. Any one of them would have made a good CEO for WesCorp,” said Updike. “Of all the five no one reached out there and grabbed us and said this is the individual. Several of us conversed and said if we could have the ideal person, who would that be. We said alright, let’s talk to Bob,” said Updike. “We interviewed all five candidates and Bob. At the end of the day Bob was the choice,” said Updike. The board selected Siravo in early March. Updike said the board was proud – considering the networking nature of the CU industry – to have kept the selection a secret for approximately two weeks. Updike said the board did consider possible ramifications of the decision, such as industry watchers questioning whether Siravo was a shoe-in from the very beginning. “It was such a positive choice. Bob has a great knowledge of WesCorp, a great deal of knowledge about the industry. He’s a very sharp individual. His people skills are the overriding factor. Bob treats people with such a high degree of respect,” said Updike. Siravo officially starts on May 1, but Johnson will stay on until WesCorp’s annual meeting to be held May 22. Siravo said he could only hope to do as well as Johnson. “He’s a great leader, and has a great reputation. He’s known for his integrity and statesmanship. There isn’t anything there I wouldn’t want to carry out. He’s turning over a wonderful organization,” said Siravo. Like Johnson, Siravo also had a military career before starting his credit union career. He served in the Air Force for 20 years. He was a navigator on C130s – four engine turbo cargo planes that can land in tight spots. In the Air Force he also spent time in HR and purchasing and procurement. He said the military teaches principles he will carry over to WesCorp. “Walk the talk. Leadership by example. Integrity. Those are the kind of things that are stressed. They make great grounding principles,” said Siravo. Siravo, 59, has already held three CU CEO positions. He was CEO of Santa Clara County FCU, Network FCU, Travis CU, and a vice president at The Golden 1 CU. Going into the job, Siravo says he has no set agenda, but does see some issues that should be addressed. “I think we ought to look at our three-tiered structure. Getting together, studying and looking at that. We need to look at all of our roles,” said Siravo. Siravo said overlapping FOMs in the corporate network give CUs more choices, which is a benefit, but CUs have a local need that corporates must be able to meet. “Different localities have different needs. No one size fits everybody. I’m a supporter of having a local presence,” said Siravo. Speaking of a local presence, that was one of Johnson’s main points in opening an office in Honolulu to serve more of Hawaii CUs’ needs after a potential merger with PacCorp didn’t come to fruition. Siravo didn’t want to comment on the past PacCorp situation, only saying, “I look forward to meeting their (Hawaii CUs) desires. I want to support and help them,” he said. As for leadership style, Siravo said this: “I’m a bit of an informational leader. I like to get around the organization and talk to people. I hold the individual leaders of the different parts of the organization accountable. I don’t dig down through the organization and drive things.” Siravo said the board of Travis CU is in the midst of beginning a search to replace him. He knows there will be some differences leading an organization that serves CUs, as opposed to serving members. “There’s probably more customization in the corporate world. I’m going from dealing with 120,000 members to 1,000. The amount of money organizations have with you, they expect personalized treatment. They expect to be listened to and worked with.” He also thinks WesCorp and other corporates may be able to play a leadership role in things like payment systems for natural person CUs. He said WesCorp’s new involvement with broker-dealer XCU Capital is a good example of how WesCorp is branching out to meet member CUs’ needs. Looking at issues facing natural person CUs, Siravo said capital issues are emerging. “Spreads are getting thinner and narrower. As ROA becomes thinner, somewhere down the line that’s going to impact growth. Capital can be a significant issue that will limit growth,” said Siravo. [email protected]</p>

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