Learning and networking were key to growing my career from teller to EVP.
On Jan. 1, I stepped up into the newly created role of executive vice president at my organization, $158 million Campco Credit Union, Gillette, Wyoming, which is now celebrating its 50th anniversary serving members. Starting with the credit union as a teller in 2013, I’ve also served as human resources director, AVP/lending, and VP/operations.
Joining Campco CU and the movement overall ignited a passion in me that I hadn’t previously had in my life. I was raised by a strong woman to believe that I could do anything. Through hard work and determination, my mom rose into the executive ranks in a male-dominated industry. But despite this, I initially lacked full confidence in myself. Learning and networking helped me turn my newfound passion for credit unions into a career of leadership and service. Both attending CEO Institute and being a CUES member have helped me experience the kind of learning and networking that energizes leaders.
CEO Institute offers top-notch classes that allow business professionals to receive academic perspectives. I will complete all three segments by participating in my last one this fall. The experience has opened my eyes to the overall operation of a credit union. Not only are the financials critical, but now I will have skills to help negotiate contracts, retain staff and properly place talent, and create strategic plans or visions for the credit union.
In addition to giving us opportunity to learn from the world-class faculty members, the program demonstrates that this movement is full of talented individuals who genuinely want to see others succeed. The networking has been remarkable. When I started CEO Institute, I was AVP/operations and, before my third year, I was able to achieve EVP. I’m really excited to receive my Certified Chief Executive designation later this year. This spring the program will be online, and it shows the value of the program that so many people are continuing no matter the delivery channel.
One of my favorite things about being a CUES member is CUESNet, the CUES members-only forum, which I have used for years to ask HR, member experience and loan questions. CUESNet has helped me formulate new ideas, collaborate with others and build confidence in my position—even as my organizational roles changed over time.
Throughout the tenure of my CU experience, I have always felt my purpose was to help others find self-confidence, develop and mentor leaders, serve members/community, and view things outside the box. My goal as EVP is to help provide a satisfying work environment that attracts talented professionals who have the passion to help members achieve financial goals. From a strategic perspective, I hope to view products, member experience and services in a unique way to help push the industry forward.
So, what’s my advice for leaders who might need a little confidence boost to propel their careers forward? I have three thoughts:
- Never stop learning! There are so many options for continuing education. Immerse yourself in magazines, CU schools, college, books, podcasts or LinkedIn articles.
- Remember, you are always interviewing for your next position. Luckily, I learned this very early in my career. Even if you are not sitting in a formal interview, your “tribe”—co-workers or potential managers—are all noticing the way you carry yourself, your actions, strengths and improvement areas.
- Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. The only way to grow is to stretch your limits.
CUES member Jesse Jacobs is EVP of $158 million Campco Credit Union, Gillette, Wyoming.