Credit Union League of Connecticut

The League integrated the Disaster Experience from Attainium into its two-year certification program.

Since 1935, the Credit Union League of Connecticut (CULCT) has served and supported its credit union members in several business-critical areas. In the past two years, according to Jill Nowacki, CULCT president and CEO, a new program is supporting the nonprofit's members' promote-from-within policy with a unique training program. The Connecticut CU Executive Education Program provides training for employees within the credit union system who are interested in gaining a broader perspective of credit union executive management and in improving their own leadership and strategic-thinking skills. The program is aimed at helping these employees make the transition from peer to supervisor easier.

"From my own experience," Nowacki said, "I know what it's like to sit at the board table without financial or compliance experience. It's difficult to make the transition and it is lonely at the top. It's helpful to have some training and a support group to make the transition easier."

According to Nowacki, CULCT is proud that its members promote from within, but it's important to have the best-prepared employees so all member credit unions get the highest-quality people in leadership positions. A former marketing executive and strategic planner, Nowacki developed the Executive Education Program to meet this need.

The training is a two-year certification program and is designed to provide rising executives within the system with well-rounded credit union knowledge. It examines the planning, organization, leadership and control functions of running a credit union as a C-suite executive. To date, 51 employees from CULCT's 107 credit unions have been enrolled in the program. Participants commit to attend nine full-day sessions and to complete various projects each program year. Content of each year's program includes sessions to strengthen knowledge of leadership, strategy and credit union operations.

"In addition to content about credit union functions," Nowacki said, "the training helps participants develop a personal leadership plan so they can facilitate their own future growth and gives them the opportunity to create a network of folks within the credit union system who have similar goals and strengths and to whom they can turn for support as they move up in their own credit union."

At the end of the two-year program, participants will have had the opportunity meet and work with regulatory personnel and analyze troubled credit unions and come up with a strategy to present to the board. In addition, there are a number of sessions that allow them to hone their communication and presentation skills, Nowacki said. Feedback from participants has been favorable, and they particularly enjoy the open dialogue with others in the program and to learn from them, she said.

According to Bob Mellinger of Attainium Corp, who conducted a disaster planning and recovery exercise during the training, "Attainium works with a variety of credit unions and credit union leagues. There is a constant need for skilled upper managers. This program should be the model for developing future senior credit union executives."