Credit Union Affairs

Char and Gigi take New Zealand!

You already know Unitus is always working to unite credit unions across the world. Our credit union movement is growing, bringing financial transparency, opportunity, and community support to more people and more peoples.

But did you know that there are two Unitus employees infiltrating New Zealand’s First Credit Union right now?

Why send Char and Gigi 7,000 miles away?

As Jason Werts, Unitus’ Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer puts it, “Credit unions across the globe are doing some very creative and inspirational things to make a lasting and meaningful impact on their communities. “This exchange program allows our employees to see some of these efforts first-hand and bring back new ideas that will allow us to better serve our community in ways that US-based credit unions haven’t yet discovered.”

How did they do it?

Serving in his capacity as chairman of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) Board of Directors, Unitus President and CEO Steve Stapp organized the exchange with First Credit Union General Manager Simon Scott. As Steve says, “In this enlightening exchange program, our team not only gets to learn about a new culture, but we also get the opportunity to share best practices that will strengthen both credit unions.”

Sounds like a sweet deal. But who are Char and Gigi again?

Char Sears, a rising superstar in the credit union movement, currently serves as Assistant Vice President and Remote Experience Manager. Her intrepid partner Gigi Gardner is Unitus’ Organizational Development Consultant. For two business weeks they will work at First Credit Union’s Hamilton, NZ headquarters. They’ll also visit a number of branches to meet teams and capture operational best practices, and experiencing the local community culture.

What does Char think about the trip?

“Seeing how New Zealand’s first and largest credit union is supporting its communities will be fascinating. Learning about their growth strategy and service model, as well as the employee culture will be exciting. It’s exciting that it is not ‘all work,’ but really a full immersion into the New Zealand culture through different activities, such as visiting a Maori village and participating in community volunteer activities.”

And how about Gigi?

“I’m really looking forward to learning about First Credit Union’s employee and talent development programs. Also, their corporate culture and how they help their community. Our hosts will be taking us on cultural trips as well as to different branches and towns. I’m very excited to see New Zealand!

Hopefully it’s not all work.

Aside from the leadership presentations and strategic discussions, Unitus’ dynamic duo will experience cultural highlights including a meet-and-greet with the mayor of Hamilton, a 3-hour guided tour and cultural performance in Whakarewarewa Village, and the opportunity to help out at First Credit Union’s Family Fun Day as part of the annual Balloons over Waikato Festival.

What’s next?

Unitus will host a pair of employees from First Credit Union at their headquarters in downtown Portland this October. Stay tuned!


Posted By: Jacob Schnee

About the Author: Jacob joined Unitus as Marketing Specialist in March 2015 and transitioned to Marketing Communications Specialist in March 2017. His experience has spanned hospitality, business development, consulting, and marketing in various industries along the east coast, west coast and in between.

When he is not developing internal and external communications for Unitus, he is engaging in recreational fitness, studying personality types and exploring the outdoors with his wife, dog, and baby.

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