Collaboration is key

By Gary Grinnell, NAFCU Board Chair

Gary Grinnell, NAFCU Board Chair

For those of us in the credit union industry, most have a specific reason or story that brought us to this path—likely, the core theme is the same. For me, while working at a community bank early on in my career, I had a constant feeling that something was missing from a cultural and personal perspective. After I heard about an opening at Corning Credit Union, I applied, secured a position and quickly knew that I had found a home.

That was more than two decades ago. I have been inspired by the credit union industry’s all-encompassing service-minded mission ever since.

While being member-owned and operating under a cooperative model are key ingredients to the “Credit Union Difference,” what has since become one of my favorite things about our industry is how collaborative and supportive it is. Over the past 25 years, I have noticed that this mission goes beyond our ability to help our members and extends from credit union to credit union as well. We are here for a greater good.

Our industry’s motto of “people helping people” goes much farther than I could have imagined, and it almost seems too good to be true that an environment like this exists within the financial services industry—where so many organizations find themselves competing to a fault or pushing for profits over people.

The concept of sharing ideas at credit unions is not limited to team members of the same organization. I’ve personally learned a lot from my peers throughout the credit union industry, and although we might compete in some areas, I have found that everyone is willing to share lessons learned and strategies.

It is true that, at our core, our goal is to propel our industry forward. And we cannot do that alone. We must work together.

I encourage you to utilize all that NAFCU has to offer to connect with your peers. The association offers 13 events throughout the year to foster the collaborative spirit within our industry. The events promote industry growth, networking for industry professionals and the ability to expand knowledge on important topics.

Another great place to connect with credit union professionals can be found online in the complimentary NAFCU Networks where you can engage in discussions with your peers in networking groups that are based on profession. It’s great to see someone pose a question to the network group about a challenge their institution is facing and have several peers offer their own experiences to help overcome those hurdles.

Our voices are stronger together. When we work together to identify and advocate for issues that benefit our members, we help the industry as a whole.

Reach out to those in the industry who are nearby or serve similar fields of membership. Network with other credit union professionals, collaborate on ideas and share knowledge with each other. We all believe in the mission of our industry and understand that the “Credit Union Difference” is real. We can help each other succeed. 

Gary Grinnell is president and CEO at Corning Credit Union in Corning, NY.

Access more info about the member-only NAFCU Networks at