Q: What led you to the credit union sector, and to BECU?
A: I am proud to lead BECU and bring more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry to the credit union. The organization’s purpose aligns with my own personal passions of financial well-being and inclusion, and I continue to be inspired by our employees’ dedication to our members and their financial health. Part of what drew me to BECU was the belief that credit unions are uniquely positioned to serve our members and communities, including those traditionally underserved by the industry. As the nation’s fourth largest credit union, the opportunities to reach and positively impact even more people in new ways is incredibly exciting.
Q: What’s your leadership style? How do you lead an engaged team?
A: I am an authentic leader and like to motivate, enroll, connect and build trust with those I work with. I appreciate knowledge and learning, so I’m known to ask questions and dig in. I show my team exactly who I am, what I am committed to and excited about and ask them to join me on a journey. People will feel my energy and passion as I build trust by being in service to them. I also have learned the importance of constant communication. It helps people know where they stand, what is expected and how they are delivering. Teams respond well to honesty and transparency. I build better teams and better leaders because they know I’ll be there to support them. As I have continued to strengthen my leadership skills over the years, I have been able to build incredible followership.
Q: What are some of the ways BECU gives back to the communities and members it serves?
A: BECU is guided by our purpose of bringing people together to improve the financial well-being of our members and their communities. As a cooperative, we measure our success by our Return to Member through great rates, low or no fees, and value-added products and programs. This includes our Reprice and First-Time Homebuyer Grant Programs. In 2022, we returned a total of $362 million to our members, which totaled an average of $265 per member.
We also have a longstanding history of supporting community organizations and nonprofit partners. In 2022, BECU donated $8.5 million to hundreds of local nonprofits dedicated to making our communities a better place to live, work and play. Last year, the BECU Foundation introduced new funding through the Housing Stability and Green Equity Initiative Grant programs.
Q: What advice do you have for other executives also trying to lead their teams in an increasingly virtual world?
A: In any work environment, but particularly one where people are working virtually, it’s important to create moments of connection. Being intentional about creating human interactions will help spark even more collaboration and positive outcomes across work teams. Examples of this at BECU include teams scheduling Friday coffee chats with no work agenda, or employees calling each other after meetings to provide feedback in the moment—recreating the moments of walking back from a conference room in the office. Yet, we are still finding our way on remote and hybrid work. We will make it a point to ensure that we are in person for major points of connection, such as awards programs, onboarding activities, all team gatherings for business and for bonding.
Q: How do you attract and retain dedicated employees?
A: One of my priorities as CEO is ensuring we have the best talent at BECU to deliver our very best for the members and communities we serve. To be successful in attracting and retaining employees, I believe we must do three things extremely well. First, we must create a sense of belonging, which is the connectedness I mentioned earlier. Even in a virtual world, we have to find ways to make people feel like they are doing their best work together. This means that we must continue to create a diverse and inclusive environment where people believe they can bring their authentic selves to work. Secondly, we must remain true to our purpose-driven culture, which is evident by how committed our 3,000 employees are to our members and communities. We ensure during the hiring process that we are attracting people who will care as much as we do. Finally, we must deliver a work environment where people will encounter opportunities to learn and grow, be challenged by the work they do and be supported by their leaders and teammates.