The perfect opportunity coming at the perfect time rarely happens, says Integris CU CEO Alison Hoskins. Sometimes, success comes to those who don’t wait.
It’s been said that timing is everything. And in many cases, waiting for the right moment before making a move is absolutely critical to a successful outcome. However, things don’t always happen on the ideal schedule, forcing a choice: Take a chance anyway or hesitate and perhaps lose out on a good thing?
Alison Hoskins, CCE, CEO of Integris Credit Union, faced just such a dilemma when she was offered that position about five years ahead of her “perfect plan.” Serving as the organization’s CEO was something she had set her sights on, but she wanted to wait until her two boys were out of high school.
“I didn’t want to miss out on any of their activities,” Hoskins, a CUES member, explains, adding that maintaining a good work/life balance has always been extremely important to her. “But as part of my decision-making process, I knew the opportunity might not come around again if I decided the timing wasn’t perfect.
“I honestly don’t believe the timing is ever right,” Hoskins continues. “But I do believe you need to carefully consider what could make it right. You need to ask,‘Is this right for me, do I want it and can I live with the no’s that come with this yes?’ My people hear me ask that question all the time. Our time, attention and resources aren’t unlimited. Every time you say ‘yes,’ there’s a ‘no’ attached.”
She said “yes” in February 2018 and now helms the seven-branch credit union headquartered in Prince George, British Columbia (there is also a corporate office), all located in the north central region of the province. Integris CU, formed in 2003 and open to anyone in the communities it serves, has approximately 200 employees and 27,800 members. Assets stand at $770 million, with growth remaining steady through leveraging the organization’s banking, insurance and financial planning services.
Hoskins, who currently oversees a team of seven senior leaders, joined the CU in 2004, coming aboard as controller. Prior to this, she worked for 10 years in public practice accounting for Deloitte, where she gained a strong base of knowledge in SME (small mid-size enterprise) auditing and taxation. She holds a CPA and a Bachelor of Business Administration in organizational behavior with an HR emphasis.
She and Integris CU grew together, Hoskins recalls. She served as controller until 2014 when she became VP/finance. She remained in this position—twice acting as interim CEO, once in the summer of 2016 for four months and a second time in the fall of 2017 for five months—until being appointed to her current role.
Although Hoskins says she never had formal mentors, there were people who championed her along the way.
“I’ve always been deliberate in having people around me who are willing to be honest with me, to help me be better and to help me see things through different lenses,” she says. “Not that I don’t believe mentors are important, but the best advice I ever received was not to look at a single person as being a mentor in all aspects of your career. Recognize that different people can serve as mentors to different aspects of your development.”
Hoskins’ accounting background and degree in organizational behavior have helped her serve her colleagues, members and leadership in a “broad way.” She also earned her CCE, or Certified Chief Executive designation, by attending all three segments of CUES’ CEO Institute and completing a special project. The institutes not only built on her knowledge and skills, but also helped her connect to other CEOs and CEO candidates across the credit union system.
“CEO Institute gave me ideas that I’ve been able to apply in my leadership, as well as people to question and probe when I need an outside opinion,” Hoskins says. “The credit union system feeds community at all levels and CUES does that as well; it has created a community where I can continue to grow.”
Hoskins cautions younger women just starting their careers to avoid comparing themselves to others—advice that social media has made hard to follow—since it sets unrealistic expectations for what people should be able to achieve in their work and personal lives.
“The only place perfection happens is in an Instagram photo,” she says. “Your career projectile will be about making work sacrifices some of the time and making family sacrifices some of the time, but neither must be sacrificed all the time. And remember, it’s totally OK to have pancakes for dinner—but maybe not just every night.” cues icon
Pamela Mills-Senn is a writer based in Long Beach, California.