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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 & Beyond: Will Crosswell finds his CU road map through Protégé Competition

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Thursday, November 29, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, November 28, 2018

In 2012, Will Crosswell heard about a newly-announced competition taking place on the state level through CEO Starla Shelton, who encouraged Crosswell to get involved and enter. New to Palmetto First FCU, the credit union movement and to business development, Crosswell declined--or rather deferred--the opportunity until 2013 so he could focus on his new job.

In the following year, Crosswell thought the timing right to enter the Palmetto Protégé and he would go on to win both the Pee Dee Chapter and the Finals Competition in 2013. Crosswell reflected on his journey in the latest installment of the Protégé & Beyond blog series with Phil Kadzielawski and Sara Portis.

Though he remembers the finals competition being somewhat of a blur at the time, he distinctly remembers "calling an audible" as he approached the podium to make his presentation. "I said, yeah, I'm not going to read this," Crosswell recalled. "I'm just going to go by memory because I had done it so often at that point I think even my wife could recite it back to me."

Having secured the Protégé title, Crosswell shared that for him, the journey was just beginning. He and Dr. Troy Hall (SC Federal) entered into a mentoring relationship in the year that followed. This mentoring relationship was the genesis of the CUaware Protégé Mentor program, which has gone on to become a key professional development opportunity for credit union young professionals and managers across the Carolinas. 

Looking back on that experience, Crosswell notes that the impulse to create the mentor program came from a recognition that there was a wider credit union community that young professionals could benefit from networking into, whether or not they won the competition. "There's some great leaders that were part of the competition that didn't win," he shared. "So it's to still try to find some ways to keep these leaders ... connected to C-level type mentors."

Crosswell said that being mentored by Hall opened some doors and his eyes to what credit unions could offer. "I didn't have that road map before. That's that sweet spot for each of us where our jobs transform into careers." Having recently joined the credit union movement from the political world, discovering this road map was foundational to his future success.  

That road map led Crosswell from Florence up Interstate 95 to Philadelphia, PA where he serves as VP of sales and service for the $650-million Ardent CU. Although time and his credit union journey have transported him away from the Carolinas, he says he still keeps his Palmetto Protégé trophy in his office and it is a proud part of his career story.

Crosswell's advice to current CUaware Protégé Finals Competition participants is to "have a blast" and be yourself. He also points out that by competing, you're no longer a 'future leader'. "If you're stepping forward now, you're a leader," he concludes.


Special Thanks to our Featured Protégé!

Will Crosswell is the vice president of service and sales for Ardent Credit Union in Philadelphia, PA. A graduate of Clemson University, he got his start in the credit union industry working in business development at Palmetto First FCU in 2011.

In 2013, Will earned the CUaware Protégé title and later went on to pilot the CUaware Mentor Program.

Tags:  career development  CUaware  CUaware Protégé Mentor program  Mentorship  Podcast  Protégé  Protégé and Beyond 

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Apply today for the 2019 CUaware Protégé Mentor program!

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Applications for the 2019 CUaware Protégé Mentor program are being accepted through November 30! Credit union staff and volunteers in North Carolina and South Carolina are encouraged to apply.

The CUaware Protégé Mentor program connects professionals with a mentor at another credit union for a period of one year. Through a process that is collaboratively designed by the mentor and protégé, a plan and goals are developed, and a strategy for maintaining regular contact is created.

The program is helpful for young professionals who are charting their credit union careers, as well as established professionals looking to take stock of their career with the assistance of an outside voice. As such, there are no age requirements for mentees.

In 2018, more than 30 professionals of all ages have been paired with a credit union mentor! The 2019 program will get started with a workshop event on January 31 in Charlotte, one day prior to the LAUNCH Conference

You may learn more about the program by going to the CUaware Protégé Mentor program. Specific guidelines, application forms and key program dates are available here for mentors and here for mentees. Please contact Jeff Hardin (919-457-9063) if you have any questions.

Tags:  career development  CUaware  CUaware Protégé Mentor program  Mentorship  Protégé 

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Corey Pace shines in the Protégé and Beyond spotlight

Posted By CUaware, Thursday, October 11, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, October 10, 2018

In 2014, Corey Pace was taking a step back. The career development team lead in the learning center at South Carolina Federal CU had a young family and had gone to part time status in order to balance her home-work life.

Having heard about the CUaware Protégé Competition the past couple of years, she recalled thinking it would be fun but not a good fit given the stage of life she was in. That's when she got a helpful nudge from Nicole Miller, her supervisor. "I think you would be great at it," Pace remembers Miller telling her.

Armed with this encouragement and a willingness to accept a career opportunity despite limited time, Pace entered the competition and went on to win the Lowcountry Chapter Competition. She would go on to place second runner-up in the 2014 CUaware Protégé Finals Competition.

Pace shared her journey with CUaware Podcast hosts Phil Kadzielawski and Sara Portis in the latest installment of the Protégé and Beyond series. The series shares the experiences of past CUaware Protégé Competition finalists in order to encourage participation in the program and offer insights on how to successfully navigate the competition process.

Looking back on that decision to compete, Pace is glad she stretched herself. "If it scares you a little bit, it's probably worth doing," Pace offered. "It was tough with three little kids and everything to decide to take this on, but I am so that glad I did."

In exchange for the time and energy devoted to the chapter and finals events, Pace notes that the payoff came in the credit union world that opened up for her. She engaged with the CUaware Protégé Mentor program, first as a mentee and in 2018 as a mentor.

As the 2014 second runner-up, Pace had the opportunity to attend the Principles and Philosophy Conference on scholarship. She also got involved with the Lowcountry Chapter and would eventually be elected to its board.

Pace notes that the competition widened her perspective and appreciation for the credit union movement and helped her to grow personally and professionally. "It stretched me, it pushed me and it really opened up some doors that might not have been there if I had not taken the leap," Pace says.

While encouraging young professionals to make a similar leap by embracing the opportunities available to them, it's likewise important for leaders to take responsibility in the process. "As leaders in the movement, we have to start to open up a conversation," Pace shared. She believes that by offering a helpful mentoring role in the lives of young professionals, they can receive helpful feedback that will encourage their participation in growth and career development opportunities like the CUaware Protégé Competition.


Special Thanks to our Featured Protégé!

Corey Pace is the career development team lead for South Carolina Federal Credit Union. With over ten years of experience in talent acquisition and career development, Corey specializes in connecting employees to the resources they need to make their career aspirations a reality, and developing talent into dynamic leaders of the credit union industry.

Corey oversees employee career coaching and development, South Carolina Federal's High Potential Employee and Successor programs, and is certified in facilitation for the Integrity Coaching program. She believes happy, fulfilled, employees who are using their talents are better able to exceed their member's expectations.

Corey is a past participant of the CUaware Protégé competition, the CUaware Mentor program as both a protégé and a mentor, and is serving as vice president of the Lowcountry Chapter of Credit Unions.

Tags:  career development  CUaware  Mentorship  Podcast  Protégé  Protégé and Beyond  SC Federal CU 

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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 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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