“Learn Just One New Thing Every Day”: Interview with Susan Barnes, Chief Operating Officer, FedChoice Federal Credit Union
I also have an MBA equivalent certificate in Executive Banking from the Consumer Bankers Association. In the workforce, I found more success with my accounting background and worked between accountant and HR roles for many years, combining my IT experience when needed. I became a Certified Compensation Professional (CCP) and moved into HR management. Prior to FedChoice, I was a strategic HR/Change Management Partner for a large, worldwide organization in the telecommunications/manufacturing business. FedChoice, (IR FCU at the time), was my first exposure to Credit Unions I started as the HR Manager, then HR Director, and switched careers to be Lending Services Director, SVP Assets & Payments Strategy, and now Chief Operating Officer (COO).
How long have you been with FedChoice? What is the secret for its success?
This month, I will be celebrating my 20-year anniversary with FedChoice. FedChoice has continued to be successful because of its hard working and dedicated employees and its loyal members. FedChoice continues to keep changing by streamlining processes and working to make programs more accessible for ease of use for the members. The constant adjusting, changing, and trying new approaches keeps FedChoice moving towards success.
Who were your mentors?
There are many mentors. I learned a lot about Credit Unions from asking questions and listening to those who have been with FedChoice longer than I have been. I have used multiple people as my mentors for operational knowledge and outside leadership coaching. My parents were also mentors to me on how to lead, conduct yourself, be trustworthy and build patience.
How is working for a credit union different from any other work?
Credit Unions are different as we care about getting the members’ story and helping them through exceptional customer service. The culture is vastly different and not cut-throat like “for-profit” organizations.
What is the most enjoyable part of working at FedChoice?
Working with very talented people who have a desire to make things right for the members and employees. Solving problems and always trying to change for the better makes it very enjoyable to work here; otherwise, I would be bored to death; I thrive on a challenge.
Why is community engagement important to you? Do you support any volunteer causes?
Community engagement has been engrained in me from an early age through 4-H, being good neighbors, and helping to teach and learn new things in the community. Most of the volunteering I have done over the last few years includes – being a scholarship judge for Credit Unions, supporting the Cherry Blossom Run, Army 10 miler, veteran organizations, church events/groups, and lending support for causes related to learning differences (dyslexic, executive functioning, etc.).
What is your life’s motto and why? What do you like to do in your free time?
Learn just one new thing every day. It keeps you humbled, and we are always learning. In my free time, I am a college sports fan (especially basketball and my college-age daughters’ teams), like to read, enjoy visiting and collecting lighthouses, participate in a woman’s church group, and recently, exploring walking trails, small beaches, and parks in Maryland that I never knew existed.
Do you have a special message for our members?
Thank you to our members for your loyalty and continual support for FedChoice. We look forward to continuing to grow FedChoice with new or enhanced programs and services, giving back to our community, and truly living the words “Altogether Better”.
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