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For fun, Melinda Love likes to read science fiction books and watch action movies. She said she enjoys the chance to escape from reality.Given that her new job as director of the NCUA’s Office of Examination and Insurance will place her at the center of the agency’s efforts to deal with the current economic crisis, Love may wish she were in an alternate universe.Love, who is scheduled to start her new post on March 16, said while the troubled economy will place additional strains on the NCUA’s resources, it’s a chance to revamp some of its programs and procedures to make the agency more responsive.In her new post, she will be overseeing an examination process that’s more comprehensive.“The focus on risk will mean that certain credit unions will have to take certain steps and precautions, even before the exam and individual examiners will have less discretion than in the past,” she said in an interview with Credit Union Times. “But the purpose of these efforts is to protect credit union members, in the broad sense. It isn’t to create paper or a ‘gotcha’ situation.”While some credit unions see examinations as necessary but not always pleasant, Love contended that the process is helpful because it provides a fresh perspective to a credit union’s operations that can spot problems that those on staff might overlook.One of Love’s challenges will be working on ways to bring the large number of new examiners up to speed. Because of a wave of retirements and as a result of the agency’s recent effort to hire more examiners, there are more examiners with less than five years’ experience than ever before. In Region V, which Love has run since 2003, approximately one-third of all examiners have been on the job for less than five years, compared with 10% to 15% in 2003, she said.Love, who began her 26-year career at the NCUA as an examiner, said she plans to revamp part of the examiner training process to include more use of technology such as podcasts and videos, in addition to the classroom work.“Because of the economy and the changes in credit unions-the consolidation has created a greater number of large credit unions-you have a greater number of larger, more complicated credit unions and you need examiners skilled at dealing with them. And with more new examiners, the training system has to help the newer folks provide the same quality of examination as the veterans,” she said.The other large part of her job will be overseeing the NCUSIF, which like all funds tied to the financial markets has been rather volatile recently. She anticipates no major changes in investment strategy.“The NCUA has always tried to ladder investments so there is always something coming due and recent liquidity needs have caused us to go for even more short-term investments,” she noted.Love said while she understands the concerns expressed by the trade associations and many credit union executives about the possible levying of a premium to pay for the corporate credit union rescue, these are extenuating circumstances.“When the fund was created, credit unions decided to mutualize their losses, and we’ve handled most situations without imposing new premiums. I understand the concern that this is the worst time to have this [premium], but this is the worst time for credit unions and the economy in a long time,” she said.The 52-year-old California native, who received her bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University and her MBA from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif., said she gets excited by the chance to execute the agency’s mission.“Our mission is incredible; we help people sleep at night by keeping their money safe. That’s what brought me in and that’s what keeps me here,” she said.To accomplish her job, she employs a management approach that is part inclusive and part decisive.“If I have the luxury of time, I’m fairly collegial. On the other hand, when we have to move quickly I can be very directive,” she said.As Love takes over one of the NCUA’s more high-profile offices, she will face challenges that will test all of her skills-management and otherwise-during her career.–[email protected]

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