Ashley Pelz, Branch Manager, Wichita Federal Credit Union
Liz Steffen, Vice President of Accounting & Information Systems, Envista Credit Union
Mike Welli, Vice President of Marketing & Advocacy, Mid American Credit Union
Ashley Pelz, Liz Steffen and Mike Welli are three of the latest graduates from one of CUNA’s Management Schools, intensive schools offering hands-on, innovative and professional development to credit union professionals.
Steffen and Welli, both attended CUNA Management School in Madison, Wisconsin and graduated with honors. Pelz graduated from Southwest CUNA Management School in Texas.
Although the coursework was demanding and challenging, the graduates said it was a valuable program for them to grow in all areas as credit union professionals.
“SCMS is an excellent school that brought great value to me professionally and personally,” said Pelz. “I highly recommend it to any credit union professional who is looking to further their credit union career.”
We asked them a few questions about their experience.
What inspired you the most about the program?
Pelz: SCMS was a challenging and rewarding journey that opened the door to develop deeper relationships with peers throughout the credit union industry who have a passion to make a difference.
Steffen: The other students were my biggest inspiration. We came from a background of varying job responsibilities, credit union size and credit union fields of membership. Regardless of our age, tenure, or level of credit union responsibility, we were all a part of the same learning experience where we openly shared information and experiences with each other for the benefit of the entire class.
Welli: Networking with other students is a big part of the experience. They become a valuable resource for developing new ideas and overcoming challenges.
What did you learn that you can take back and apply at your credit union or in your role at the credit union?
Pelz: Through the ALM courses led by instructors and completing the financial projections as a requirement of the two year strategic business plan, I was able to gain a better understanding of an area of the organization that I do not directly work with on a daily basis.
Steffen: In the classroom, CMS exposed me to a broad range of challenges that credit union executives are faced with daily; such as employment law, ethics, marketing, employee management and coaching, internal controls and a strong focus on ALM. There wasn’t anything that I learned that I couldn’t find a way to apply to Envista and my role here.
Welli: The program helps develop strategic thinking, which I think is important given the many challenges credit unions are facing.
What was the most challenging part, project or process of the program?
Pelz: The most challenging part of the process for me was ALM.
Steffen: The most challenging part of CMS was the two week periods away from home and work. Sleeping in a dorm, sharing a bathroom and eating dorm cafeteria food for two weeks is not as much fun as it sounds! But it was a part of the overall experience that I shared with my peers and we made the best of it, ultimately building great friendships and professional relationships. In addition to the time in Madison, I spent many weekends working on the projects. Finding the time to accomplish all of this took a significant commitment from me, my family and Envista.
Welli: The written projects were extensive and demanding, but they offered a unique opportunity to learn about your credit union and its peers.
A total of 30 people from Kansas have graduated from the schools (20 graduates from CUNA Management School, and 10 graduates from Southwest CUNA Management School). CUNA Management School and Southwest CUNA Management School are three year innovative and hands-on programs designed to develop and enhance leadership skills and be a source of professional networking. Students receive intense training with real-world applications that prove invaluable upon returning to your credit union.
For questions about CUNA Management Schools, contact Gina Evans, (800) 362-2076, ext. 3010.