Little did I know what was in store for me when I joined the credit union movement almost two years ago. Coming from a large regional bank; to say I went through a paradigm shift would be a massive understatement.
With the support from my President/CEO, Judy Tharp, I was able from the very start to immerse myself in what it means to be part of this movement, to really put members first, and to live each and every one of the cooperative principles that guide what we do day in and day out. I was fortunate enough to attend the Principles and Philosophy Conference, (a must for all new credit union employees), and then came Crash the GAC.
To give some background, the Crash program aims to develop young credit union professionals by providing opportunities not normally available in typical office and conference settings. "Crashers" attend the standard conference events – keynotes, breakouts, etc. – in addition to a separate schedule that involves tailored sessions, workshops, and networking events.
Through this approach, the Crash group is able to broaden their knowledge of the credit union industry; while simultaneously deeply engaging that young talent to ensure the future of credit unions. This past December, I was selected to represent the state of North Carolina for Crash the Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) 2017, however, this was not my first Crash experience.
My first Crash experience was for the America’s Credit Union Conference in Seattle, WA in June of 2016. This experience deepened my understanding of the credit union difference and served as a valuable launching board for the objectives of Crash the GAC 2017.
Before I get into some of the highlights, I would be remiss not to mention the support of the Carolinas Credit Union League with their generous scholarship as well as all the organizations that made Crash the GAC possible – CUNA, CUNA Mutual Group, SavvyMoney, and Larky.
As you may know, the GAC is the largest credit union advocacy event of the year with a duration of five days. This year, the focus was common sense regulation. In reality, I could write a ten page paper on the topic alone, but, I will spare you that thesis.
What all surrounded this central theme was inspiring keynotes from Derreck Kayongo, Kat Cole, Bob Schieffer and Colin Powell; galvanizing breakout sessions from Jim Nussle and Rep. Eric Swalwell; and a deeper knowledge of all that is being done at the Filene Research Institute and the National Credit Union Foundation.
Additionally, we were fortunate enough to attend the Herb Wegner Memorial Awards. This event, otherwise known as “the Oscars of the credit union world,” provided deeper inspiration from award winners Maria j. Martinez and Stan Hollen, and instilled pride as the Cooperative Trust was also honored as the Exceptional Program for their Crash program.
If that wasn’t enough to get any attendee excited, we also had the surreal experience of “Hiking the Hill” in order to lobby our lawmakers that our member base of over 100 million matters and needs our legislators’ support on multiple fronts.
|"The Crash experience deepens the belief that what we do is a noble excursion." -- Paul McManus
The Crash group, representing all 50 states, became more than a group of young professionals merely selected for a unique conference experience. That is because the Crash experience is one that tested us in in a variety of ways. We were tested physically, with the 7:00 AM start times, and the all too often 2:00 AM end times. We were tested mentally, in that our thoughts mattered, but more importantly, were expected – often. We were also tested emotionally, as deep bonds were formed over the shared experience, the laughs and the comradery, but also the writhes and real world issues facing us both personally and professionally. This is a group that will maintain this special connection for years to come, and I can safely say, we are all better for it.
I highly recommend applying for a Crash event, (there are several throughout the year), to all our young professionals in the Carolinas. I would also recommend the support of this program from all our senior leaders.
The Crash experience deepens the belief that what we do is a noble excursion. It allows young professionals to establish relationships that are much more than professional acquaintances. It empowers Crashers to bring back all they’ve learned and to share it with credit union movement colleagues, members, and our communities.
I am proud to have been a Crasher, ecstatic to share all that I have learned, and willingly available as a resource for any and all that are interested in this incredibly special program and experience.
Paul McManus is the HR & Learning Manager for Piedmont Advantage Credit Union. A native of Yonkers, NY, he holds a BA in Management and International Business from Loyola College in Maryland. Paul has over 10 years’ experience in the financial services industry. After working with a large regional bank and gaining financial retail, HR, and leadership experience, Paul saw the light and shifted his paradigm by joining the credit union movement and Piedmont Advantage in 2015. You can reach Paul at email@example.com.