MADISON, Wis. (8/13/12)--Participants in the weeklong Credit Union Development Education (DE) Program leave with a stronger sense of purpose in addition to more credit union-specific knowledge, according to a Filene Research Institute paper.
The program, presented twice each year by the National Credit Union Foundation, consistently draws rave reviews from participants and a waiting list for those who wish to attend. But the curriculum remains a bit of a mystery within the industry, Filene said.
That sense of mystery is helpful in taking participants out of their comfort zone, said Bob Schumacher, a senior consultant for the Paragon Group and one of the facilitators at the April DE session.
The weeklong training includes classroom sessions, hands-on activities, and a wrap-up project that requires each small group to solve a case study that draws from recent happenings in the financial services space.
For their case studies, work groups are given 18 hours to research a complex financial topic, develop a recommendation, and present their ideas to an auditorium of credit union peers. While the case studies are fictional, they reflect true challenges from the credit union world.
The Filene report offers overviews of five case studies delivered during the Spring 2012 session. Topics addressed include national branding, members business lending, mergers, emerging markets and the international credit union system.
In addition to the credit union-oriented takeaways the program provides, students who go through the DE training also talk about "discovery" and "bonding" and the infusion of energy they receive through team building, according to the report.
"I loved the fact that you checked your title at the door: You didn't know that the person you'd been working with all week was a CEO until the end," said Teresa Shively of GESA CU in Richland, Wash.
A critical message of the DE program is that the roles participants play in their everyday jobs are important, said Lois Kitsch, national program manager of the REAL Solutions program at the National Credit Union Foundation and a DE facilitator, said.
"That they can be a catalyst for change or a reaffirmation of core credit union values," is another key message, Kitsch said. "I love the fact that these sessions create a group dynamic that drives powerful individual outcomes."
Those outcomes can be life changing, Schumacher said. "One participant told me that after she went through DE it became the filter through which she tried to make all of her decisions," he added. "It's a revelation for many."