Libby C. - CEO/President of Earthmover Credit Union

April 20, 2010
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Many people have been effected by the poor global economy, but the financial sector has really been hit hard. CEO/President of Earthmover Credit Union Libby C. knows this and has to deal with many challenges throughout her day. Even through the rough economic downturn, Libby C. has been able to keep her company afloat. She is a perfect example of determination and climbing the corporate ladder to obtain success. This is how she got there and what it is like to be a CEO:

What was the path to get your job?

I graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Finance/Accounting and had several job offers to consider. I took a job in auditing. After I left that job, I went to my present company where I worked my way up through several positions: loan officer, accounting manager, Vice-president, Chief Financial Officer and now Chief Executive Officer/President.

What do you like most about your job? What do you like least about your job?

What I like most is the constant variety of challenges; no day is ever the same. And in a smaller company it is easy to see the impact you are having. What I like least is developing plans that deal with things you cannot control, like the economy and regulatory issues. Being a bit of a control freak, it frustrates me when I cannot control the situation, like the world economy.

What is your typical day at work?

Every day I deal with lending decisions, whether to make a loan or not, what steps to take on a collection account, and pricing on deposits. I monitor the investment portfolio and make buy/sell decisions based on the market. I also manage staff as they provide service to our customers and make decisions on human resources issues. I analyze marketing strategies and how they can impact/improve our business.

What other jobs have you had?

I have been a waitress and bartender and of course, babysitting as a teenager. I also worked in bank auditing.

What skills did you learn in your other jobs that have helped you in your current position?

Waitressing and bartending were great because they taught me how to deal with all types of people in various situations. Good people skills are important in any job that you have because you are always a sales person no matter what your job. In bank auditing, I got to see all aspects of the business since I was responsible for examining all divisions in the bank. It was a great learning experience. I didn’t like that I wasn’t having an immediate and direct effect on the profitability of the bank though.

What is the biggest challenge you deal with in your job?

How to continually grow the business. No business can survive if it remains static and doesn’t grow. The current economic environment is tough and the competition is fierce. Regulations are increasing all of the time and they take away valuable resources like staff time, money and efficiency.

How do these challenges worry you?

I worry that the business will not grow and be able to replace revenue streams that are being taken away by regulatory reforms. How will we compete and grow in the future and how will our business model need to change to survive? The economy is a constant worry because we cannot control it, but we are definitely slaves to it.

What was the most exciting, shocking, or ridiculous thing that has ever happened to you while working?

Working with the public can always be exciting. Unfortunately, we have been robbed three times. Those events are very scary for the staff. We have had people having sex in the parking lot, lots of bizarre outfits and styles worn by our customers, numerous crazy stories told to us, and of course, repossessions are always interesting. We have had cars involved in drug trafficking and crime – some of the things we have found in cars are outrageous! We have dealt with fraud scenarios too. It is interesting to try to solve these frauds and discover the culprits and how the fraud plays out.

Were you surprised about what your current job is compared to earlier in your life?

I never expected to be a CEO of a financial institution. I wanted to go into the medical field when I started college. But then I decided that I didn’t want to go to school forever and wanted to make money right away. I switched to business and found out that I was pretty good at it. I developed an interest in the financial markets and wanted to be involved with them in some aspect.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to work in your industry?

Education is first and foremost. You need to have a good solid background in all aspects of business: accounting, finance, marketing, economics, law, and administration. Read, read, read too! Read the Wall Street Journal and watch the business news. While it may seem too high-level, you will eventually understand how all of the various aspects fit together and how it impacts your business, no matter what field you are in.

Would you recommend your job to others?

Definitely! It has lots of challenges, but those challenges are what make it fun and interesting. You have to like people and have a high-energy level too.

How are your relationships with your colleagues and customers?

I enjoy my colleagues and our customers are interesting and fun. One of the best parts about our company is that we are like family, staff and customers alike. We have fun at work. I am a firm believer in making work fun. You are there too many hours for it to not be a good time. Everybody wants to work where it is fun and patronize a business that is fun.

How does your job affect your personal life?

My job is a 24/7-type position. I am never not available to my staff and customers. But I also believe in work-life balance and I empower my staff to handle things when I am gone. So while I am available, they rarely need me because they know I trust in them and they have been trained to think. I am committed to balancing everything, and I love to be busy so I do not mind the demands. There are times that are more stressful than others are. It is during those stressful times that you have to focus on your mental and physical health so that you can deal with the challenges.

Does anything influence your decisions at work?

My moral compass is my guide. I will never compromise the integrity of the company. In the back of my mind I think about reading about my decision on the front page of the Chicago Tribune. Would I be okay with that?

What would be your dream job?

I would love to travel and lecture. I’m not sure what I would lecture about though. The goal I am working toward now is starting my own financial planning business. People really need help in this area. Having financial security is necessary before you can make all your other dreams come true. If I were 20 again, I would go to medical school because I do have a great interest in the medical field and would love to heal people. But since I am not 20, I will help people with their financial lives!

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