Dakota Credit Union Association is thrilled to announce that four Dakota credit union professionals have recently completed the iLead@11 DakCU Emerging Leader Program.
Congratulations to: Jamie Kneifl, Explorers CU; Audrey Fink, Ft. Randall FCU; Colin Duffy, Ft. Randall FCU; and Laura Hausmann, United Savings CU.
We wanted to acquire some feedback about the program from these diligent individuals, particularly why they started the program, how difficult it was to complete the coursework, and what benefits they gained from this continuing education – both professionally, and personally.
Colin Duffy, branch manager at Ft. Randall FCU said, “I decided to take on the iLead@11 DakCU Emerging Leader Program because I wanted to discover more about my strengths and weaknesses as a leader. My VP encouraged me to go after the scholarship because she knew that it would benefit me and the future of my credit union. While I didn’t have any preset expectations, I did not realize that it would go so deep into the psychology of my leadership abilities. I ultimately learned that I need to be more aggressive with my decision-making skills, become a better listener, and work on my ability to give explanations. I also learned ways to work with leaders who may have different styles. I would certainly suggest this program to other credit union professionals who want to become better leaders,” he added.
Jamie Kneifl, executive assistant/BSA officer at Explorers CU remarked, “My CEO brought the program to my attention, knowing that my goal is to move into a management/executive position at some point. My hopes were to get a better understanding of my leadership style and identify what areas I needed to improve. Working through the virtual sessions and my Individual Development Plan helped me to gain a better understanding of how to work effectively with other personality and management styles, and for me, the coursework was not that difficult. I am already using those new skills, as I now have a direct report!
Jim Schaefbauer is the CEO of United Savings CU in Fargo, ND, with Laura Hausmann as a recent program graduate, and two additional employees, Elizabeth Kochmann and Kelsey Keeley, on track to complete their sessions by September 2022. Schaefbauer says, “It is our responsibility to build our bench strength by identifying, encouraging, and training individuals in our credit unions so they have the necessary knowledge, skills, and tools to be our replacements in the management and senior leadership positions. The result has been that my staff that attended the program have indicated it is worth their time, and there is value in the things they learned. From my perspective, the better results will be more long term. I consider this an investment in our staff and the future of the credit union,” he concluded.
April Tompkins, CEO of Explorers CU, agrees. “There is so much more to being a leader than just our technical knowledge of the credit union,” she stated. “We don’t have an in-house trainer or an HR department, so I was searching for a program that we could incorporate into a formal leadership training program going forward for high potential or newly promoted leaders – all while staying within our training budget! I liked the fact that the program included a self-assessment as well as a survey from supervisors and peers to help the individuals identify areas that are strengths as well as areas to improve. I also thought the one-on-one coaching they received with someone outside of the credit union would be invaluable. The individual I sent through the program, Jamie Kneifl, has since been promoted and is now managing her own team member. We are looking to send other high potential candidates through the program,” she added.
Julie Thomson is the CEO of Ft. Randall FCU, which sent two professionals through the program, Audrey Fink and Colin Duffy, with Audrey completing the executive track module. When asked, “Why did you decide to encourage your employees to attend the iLead@11 DakCU Emerging Leader Program,” she responded that operating in a rural area makes it difficult to find or attend convenient development training. “This was a great opportunity, and the scholarship assistance our attendees received made it an added value. My employees that attended have already expressed the desire to attend more training!”
DakCU would like to thank our business partner, Alloya Corporate FCU, for providing scholarships for several of our attendees. Alloya’s financial support makes it easier for credit unions, particularly those with limited budgets, to engage their emerging leaders in these educational opportunities.
The Dakota Credit Union Foundation has also provided scholarships for the program. In fact, there is one remaining Foundation scholarship available for $1,250 – which covers half the cost of the entire program! If you would like to apply, click here to submit an application and be sure to include “iLead@11 DakCU Emerging Leader Program” in the description.
For general questions about the program, please contact DakCU’s Chief Officer of Strategic Services, George McDonald at 701.250.3942.
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