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The goal of the CUaware Council is to informally introduce all levels of credit union employees (and industry folks) to the CU Movement so we can all learn, share and grow. Here is where we will share personal insights on subjects related to the credit union movement, career development, industry expertise, CUaware events, and more. Subscribe today to be notified each time we post. Happy Reading!


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Protégé and Beyond podcast catches up with Koy Stone

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Tuesday, September 4, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Recently, the CUaware Council debuted its new blog series called "Protégé & Beyond." The series features interviews with former CUaware Protégé Competition finalists, giving them a platform to share what they learned during and after the program.

In the latest podcast installment, hosts Sara Portis and Phil Kadzielawski of Coastal CU spent some time speaking with Koy Stone (SC Telco FCU). Stone, who today serves as the risk and facilities manager at SC Telco, participated in the program in 2015.

Having previously worked for a bank, Stone says he viewed the Protégé Competition as a learning experience. "I wanted to become more aware of our history and philosophy. I knew there was a difference there, but I wanted to learn more," Stone said.

In the years since the competition, Stone notes that the networking and professional development opportunities he's participated in have been most valuable. These include chapter events and League programs such as the CUaware Protégé Mentor program

At the time Stone applied for the Mentor program, he was a branch manager at SC Telco. In his application, he expressed interest in learning about project management and was paired with a project manager at Coastal CU. "I was able to take a lot away from that," he said of the experience. He added that participating in the Mentor program lead to his current role at the SC Telco, where he uses project management principles regularly. "Not only did it show my senior management that I had the capability of doing it, but it also showed that I had an interest," he said.

In reflecting on the lessons he learned, Stone offered several pieces of advice for contestants in this year's competition. "Everybody wins," he shared, even if you do not win or even make it to the finals. "You've had the experience where you could put together thoughts and a well-prepared paper and present them in front of your peers. No one can take that away from you." 

Stone concluded with the idea that the competition is a safe space to challenge yourself and grow. "It's an amazing opportunity. If I could do it again, I would." 

Special Thanks to our Featured Protégé!

Koy Stone is the Risk and Facilities Manager for SC Telco FCU in Greenville, SC. He has worked in the financial services industry for over 12 years, and he finished as the first runner-up in the 2015 CUaware Protégé competition. After the contest, Koy chose to attend the Southeastern CUNA Management School where he graduated in June of 2018. While attending this school, Koy competed on the debate team and he won awards for the ‘Best 2nd Year Project’ and the ‘Best 3rd Year White Paper’. Koy has been married to his wife, Amy, for 10 years and they have two children, Julianne and Nolan.

Tags:  career development  Mentorship  Podcast  Protégé  Protégé and Beyond  SC Telco FCUCoastal Credit Union 

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CUaware premieres new ‘Protégé & Beyond’ blog series ft. past competition finalists

Posted By CUaware, Wednesday, July 25, 2018

In coordination with the kickoff for the 2019 CUaware Protege Competition season, the CUaware Council is excited to premiere its new blog series called "Protégé & Beyond." The series features interviews with former competition finalists, giving them a platform to share what they learned during and after the program.

"It's part 'where are they now' and part 'pay it forward,' said Coastal Credit Union's Sara Portis, the brainchild of the interview series. "We are pleased so many former finalists have taken to this idea and look forward to hearing what each of them have to share on their experience and where life has taken them post-protégé."

Dizzy Felkel and SPC CU staff from 2012
Dizzy Felkel (center), who worked at SPC Credit Union at the time, competed in the first year of the Protégé Competition in 2012 to become the first-place winner. Since then, he's returned from time to time to share his insight with professionals in the credit union movement through various League and chapter events.

The interview series will be posted monthly throughout the 2019 competition cycle. The first episode premiered this week on the CUaware Podcast and features the "OG" Dizzy Felkel, who won the inaugural protégé competition in 2012.

In the interview, led by Coastal Credit Union's Sara Portis and Phil Kadzielawski, Dizzy touched on a variety of subjects including what it was like being among the first to compete in the program, how to prepare to compete, and the importance of taking advantage of this platform and unique opportunity.

"I owe a whole lot to that competition," said Felkel. "The people at the manager [from SPC Credit Union] at the time. A lot of people invested in me and believed in me and it opened up a lot of doors for me, and it's led to a lot of cool things in life. That's why I dwell so much on 'make the most of it' because I'm living proof that this can change a life."


Special Thanks to our Featured Protégé!

Dizzy Felkel has a passion for serving the credit union industry, which has offered him incredible opportunities over the years. He works at Jack Henry & Associates under the Symitar division, where he focuses on small and mid-sized credit unions. He also offers training and public speaking services under his personal brand.

Dizzy holds the honor of winning the inaugural CUaware Protégé Competition in 2012. Educationally speaking, he holds an MBA from North Greenville University and is a graduate of the Southeast CUNA Management School. Dizzy resides near Charlotte with his wife and daughter.

Tags:  career development  Coastal Credit Union  CUaware  learn  networking  Podcast  Protégé  Protégé and Beyond 

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CUaware Podcast: New episode focuses on blockchain, Real Talk with Dr. Troy

Posted By Courtney Jackson, Thursday, May 31, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2018

“CUaware Podcast” co-hosts Paul Narcisse and Phil Kadzielawski have returned with a new episode for May that takes listeners on a deeper dive into blockchain technology and how it may be used in the U.S. election process.

Referencing an article from NPR, Phil notes how the U.S. election system is still vulnerable to cyber-attacks and how blockchain technology has the potential to deter these kinds of attacks in the future while restoring voter confidence.

An illustration of the differences between a traditional database and blockchain. Source: Faizod 

“A proper blockchain solution for voting, would be a trustless immutable ledger that would lead to increased confidence,” shares Kadzielawski. “By moving voting to blockchain solutions, there would be no single third-party…that holds the one copy of our records. Blockchain is itself, a transparent ledger of information.”

What is a “trustless” immutable ledger, you may ask? Find out more by listening to the "Blockchain Bit" at the 7:05 mark.

Later in the episode, South Carolina Federal Credit Union’s Troy Hall returns to get into the “meat and potatoes” of mentoring through the prism of his success model in the “Real Talk with Dr. Troy” segment.

In part one of five in this segment, Troy focuses on the first ground rule in the mentoring success model: Declaring the mentee/mentor relationship as a collaboration between two people. An agreement where both parties acknowledge they need each other. Often times, it can be perceived that the mentor doesn’t get much out of the experience but Dr. Troy cautions against that kind of thinking.

“As a leader, one of the important characteristics of leadership is to be teachable,” shares Hall. “I have to enter the space saying ‘I have more to learn than just my 10,000 hours of practice.’ Think about it, how awkward would it be going into a relationship where the other person doesn’t need you? That doesn’t even make sense.”

Hear more from “Real Talk with Dr. Troy” at the 22:28 mark.

The full podcast episode is available on CUaware’s podcast page or on iTunes here. Lastly, if you have a podcast topic or suggestion, please contact Paul, Phil or Jeff Hardin using the email links on the podcast page.

Tags:  CUaware  Mentorship  Podcast 

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CUaware goes back to its roots, talks rise of blockchain and more in April podcast

Posted By Courtney Jackson, Thursday, April 5, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2018

“CUaware Podcast” hosts Paul Narcisse and Phil Kadzielawski have returned with a new episode for April that takes listeners back to CUaware’s roots as they interview the council’s co-founders Brandon McAdams and Patrick Livingston of Coastal Credit Union. The podcast episode also includes a segment on the rise of blockchain technology and the premiere of “Real Talk with Dr. Troy” led by SC Federal Credit Union COO Troy Hall.

McAdams and Livingston, tasked with a follow-up project as part of the CUDE certification program, started CUaware back in 2011 with a simple premise to fill a gap that exists within the credit union industry: staff often not knowing what makes credit unions and cooperatives unique and special. So, they started to host afterhours meetups to bring credit union professionals in the Triangle together for networking and knowledge exchange.

Coastal Credit Union's Patrick Livingston (left) and Brandon McAdams (right) were honored with the 2014 Cooperative Spirit Award by the National Credit Union Foundation for creating CUaware. Photo credit: Coastal CU

“We reached out to folks that were DE graduates in the area as well as people that we worked with and brought them in and said, ‘hey, we’re going to be at a local watering hole after work, just come and talk,” recalled McAdams.

“We also started off with buy-in from folks,” Livingston added. “Working with our management team and other credit unions’ management teams, and saying, ‘this is something that you want to participate in.’ So, it became an opportunity for real networking to happen.”

Later in the interview McAdams reflected on the growth of the CUaware Council, remarking on how they quickly realized this program had great potential to expand and make even more of an impact on the lives of professionals in the Carolinas and beyond.

“Once we realized that people were coming back and people in other areas wanted something similar, we realized that…the two of our efforts weren’t enough to keep up with demand," said McAdams. "We needed some funding, to expand out and we looked at each other realizing, this was that next step. Now, we have the League involved, CEOs coming and we have a lot of people’s attention and we don’t want to mess up."

CUaware today has five active regional councils in both states, hosting events throughout the year focused on four central themes: education, volunteerism, protégé, and advocacy. The League’s existing Protégé Competition was also added to the CUaware “family” in 2014 and has since expanded, adding a Protégé Mentor program for sustained career development for CU professionals of all ages.

Kadzielawski and Narcisse are both past participants in the Protégé programs, and have shared in a past episode the impact these CUaware programs have had on their own careers and lives.

For McAdams and Livingston, CUaware was among their first experiences serving in a strong leadership role at a time when their careers were just beginning. And from then to now, they carry the lessons of that experience into their roles at the credit union today.

“In my role at the time, I was not managing anybody or had a marketing background,” McAdams continued. “CUaware was an opportunity for me to lead and show a different skill set. It’s not just a networking opportunity.”

“It’s allowed me to explore creativity [at my job] in way that’s better than what it would have been without the experience of going through that,” Livingston added.

Listen to the full interview and more on CUaware’s podcast page or access the podcast on iTunes here. Lastly, if you have a podcast topic or suggestion, please contact Paul, Phil or Jeff Hardin using the email links on the podcast page.

Tags:  Coastal Credit Union  Credit Union Development Educators  CUaware  CUDE  Podcast  Protégé 

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CUaware Councils target Education, Concern for Community in April events

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Friday, May 5, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2018
 The CUaware Lowcountry Council learned about the Victory Junction Reach Program, and built birdhouses in support of the Reach mission (view more photos here.).  

The Triad and Lowcountry Councils of CUaware mixed education, volunteerism and fun during their recent April events! Triad area participants learned about credit unions and cooperation from a member's perspective, while the Lowcountry attendees learned about the Victory Junction Reach Program of the Carolinas Credit Union Foundation (CCUF). 

The Triad hosted its event at Piedmont Advantage Credit Union, with Fentress Gerald as the featured speaker. Gerald is a member of State Employees' Credit Union who serves as an Advisory Board volunteer. SECU has Advisory Boards at each of its branches. These volunteers meet quarterly to discuss issues relative to their branches and provide recommendations for improvement of services and procedures.

Nearly 40 people attended the event on April 26, and learned insights from Gerald about credit unions from a member's perspective. Attendees also enjoyed lunch and a time of networking. 

Meanwhile 40 people gathered in the Lowcountry on Tuesday morning, April 25 to learn about the Reach program. Lauren Whaley of the Carolinas CU Foundation and Jonathan Lemmon of Victory Junction shared the impact of Reach and the credit union movement's impact. The event took place at the Rivers Avenue location of South Carolina Federal. 

Reach is made possible by an exclusive partnership between Victory Junction and the Carolinas Credit Union Foundation. The support of the credit union industry brings specialized camp-style programming to children and families year round outside the gates of Victory Junction.

Having heard the message, the Lowcountry attendees got to work in support of Reach! The group built birdhouses that will be used in Reach, investing their time in a program that is special to credit unions in Carolinas. 

CUaware is a council of the Carolinas Credit Union League. CUaware aims to informally introduce all levels of credit union employees to the movement through events emphasizing education, volunteerism, advocacy and networking.

CUaware also invests in the professional development of credit union staff through the CUaware Protégé Competition and the CUaware Protégé Mentor program. Learn more about CUaware and how you can get involved by going to the CUaware web page


Tags:  Carolinas Credit Union Foundation  CUaware  Mentorship  Protégé  volunteerism 

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