Q&A with Cathy, Executive Vice President of PCM Credit Union
- What has been the best about having a life-long career working in credit unions?
I consider myself lucky to have found a position and an employer that continued to let me grow and expand throughout my career. I had a lot of support from our volunteer Board of Directors and a great working relationship with Dan, our President. Many people are reluctant to change, but I like to change and enhance things for our members constantly. I always say the grass does not grow under our feet here at PCMCU. All of the changes over the years are kind of ironic, though, because, in my personal life, I have been with the same employer for 42 years and married to my amazing husband Danny for 43 years, so that part is funny!
- We have heard you say, “All you can leave behind in this world is what you leave in people’s hearts.” When mentoring, can you share how you inspire others?
Before I leave, I plan to give my teammates that I have mentored a little heart, which is a piece of my heart, that I will leave behind with each of them. I have saved one heart with a hole in it, which is sentimental to me since I will have a hole in my heart when I retire. I will miss the fellowship and the daily human interaction of our team. I’m thankful that they have all wanted to learn as much as they can from me, and I’m excited for the continued great things that will happen for them and our members. They are ready to continue to lead this great credit union.
- Can you share some monumental memories over the years as the credit union was growing?
I was involved in developing all of our building structures as we grew. We have received high professional rankings from independent research companies over the years, which is very rewarding to me because this tells us how we give as much as possible back to our member/owners. We also were selected as one of the Best Credit Unions to Work For, which again was another great honor. I have built amazing relationships over the years with members, vendors, and other credit union professionals. I keep a crate of letters and cards from members, staff and friends; these are treasures for me. I have always tried to find a way to make something happen for others; I love making their dreams come true. Where there is a will, there’s a way.
- What are some of your best credit union memories?
I truly enjoyed attending many conferences over the years and meeting other credit union professionals. I’ve built lifetime friendships in the process. For many years I was able to volunteer for our local credit union chapter and as a Director for the Wisconsin Credit Union League. Other great memories come from volunteering as the President of our data processor user group and all of the fun meetings our committee put together throughout the Midwest. My most incredible honor was when a co-worker nominated me, and I was selected as Wisconsin Credit Union League’s Professional of the Year. I obtained lifelong friends and excellent education while attending CUNA Management School at UW in Madison and the CUES CEO Institute, which allowed me to attend classes at Wharton Business School, Cornell University, and Darden University.
For years I have helped to raise money for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, close to half a million dollars. This has become a passion for me as I was severely burned at the age of three. An ill child can be such a hardship for families and I want to do what I can to help others. I love our annual “Christmas in July” golf event and I’ll be leading that event for as long as possible.
- What has been the most rewarding part of your career?
Knowing that you have made a direct impact on a members well-being. Also, seeing the people I work with grow and expand into new roles and additional responsibilities. I like to be a part of other peoples happiness!
- What is your golden rule?
My parents instilled in me: To be honest, caring, hardworking, trustworthy, and kind to others. My mom was only 17 when she had me. By the time she was 18, she had three kids, and by the time she was 22, she had 5! For being such young parents, they did a great job of instilling great values. My dad made relationships with people all over the place and had a lot of friends. He made a tremendous impact on others; they knew he was a great man and a good friend.
- What age do you feel and why?
Most days, I feel like I’m in my 40’s. I feel like I have a lot of life left to live and pray that I do. Age is just a number.
- What advice would you give your 30-yr old self?
I don’t have many regrets, but one is that I didn’t spend more time with my mom before she died. As far as my work, I’ve done the most that I could do to make it the best that it could be. My advice would be not to be afraid to speak up, use your voice. If you have something to share and have an opinion, share it respectfully. Over the years, we have learned to involve our leadership team in more discussions and decisions. It is beneficial to gain others’ thoughts and ideas.
- Why are you so passionate about technology and its importance?
I like the challenge of new things, learning, and helping others learn. I think the passion comes with wanting to compete with the big dogs. If we don’t, our members are going to find it elsewhere. We have to figure out a way to provide the best options, and at our size, that is not always easy considering the costs. Building strong partner relationships has been key to doing things we do; having partners who like us and want to help make things work allowed us to provide so many great products & services. I have great memories with some of our partners and have built life-long relationships.
- What are your plans for retirement?
We ordered a motorhome that will be here in March, and we are planning to go to more World of Outlaw Sprint Car Races throughout the country and see friends we have made over the years. We are also excited to have more time to visit family and friends and spend more time with my nieces and nephews. I still have a fire in my belly to ensure everyone learns what they want to learn from me. The changes to PCM are not going to stop, and I am still looking out for the best interest of PCM and our members. I want to be available for our team if they need me and help out with special events! PCM is my family, and it will be hard for me because when you love something so much, it is hard to give it up.
- Some last words and advice?
I’ve always put myself last and was very dedicated to my job, which was more of my passion, but now I’m looking forward to putting myself and my family first. My best advice would be to stop and smell the roses sometimes and do things for yourself as much as possible.
You will have ups and downs throughout life, but things do get easier and get better as the years go by. Your relationships grow stronger every year. Sometimes, you have to stay strong through tough times. Everyone has them, but realize the difficult times do not last long; there is always sunshine around the corner.
Be kind, caring, and honest – show others how much you care about them. Life is short, so enjoy the good times!