As a community bank, Citizens Union Bank (CUB) places a great focus on going above and beyond for people in Louisville and throughout Kentucky. This commitment is also extended to CUB employees.
In Shelby County, Ky., CUB is making a difference in students’ lives by offering financial literacy classes. CUB is also incentivizing employees across 12 branches in the six Kentucky counties the bank serves with paid time off and fund matching for taking steps to better their own health.
While each of these initiatives serves a different need, they share a common link. Both are projects that have been brought about by CUB’s Leadership Academy, a yearly program that’s helmed by CUB employees.
As part of the program, employees from disparate departments, who may not otherwise have had occasion to speak to one another, are selected and given a topic to address as a team. The employees then spend the next eight months working together, developing initiatives in line with the designated theme. These initiatives have had far-reaching impact — in the communities the bank serves and within the bank itself — and they don’t end when the yearlong program is over. They become a part of CUB’s daily life and culture.
Leadership Academy supports schools with financial education
Brent Miller, a Credit Risk Manager who’s been with CUB for more than four years, participated in the bank’s 2014 Leadership Academy. The theme for that year was community involvement.
“We were focused on getting in with the schools, getting them financial education early on, because most schools don’t do that,” says Miller. “So we just tried to reach out to them and we did some education with them.”
The initiative has been implemented in several schools. Leadership Academy participants from Miller’s project, along with the people they train to lead workshops, spend a day taking over a teacher’s class, educating each group about topics like credit cards, interest and credit scores.
“Even practical items, like reading through contracts and purchase agreements — we try to teach them those things,” says Miller.
Miller adds that there’s often a moment where you’ll see the information getting through to a student. “Something clicks and you see them imagining control over their financial futures,” says Miller. “We’ve also gotten invites to be part of some of their group projects.”
Essentially, the program participants at CUB act as financial mentors — which Miller says is a necessary, but often lacking, aspect of a modern education.
CUB employees also benefit from education programs
Miller’s Leadership Academy team also offers financial education to employees within CUB. Credit analysis and credit planning education are two of the internal initiatives the group launched for bank employees. Miller says that getting a handle on finances depends on a basic understanding of credit, but he notes that many join the workforce without access to that education.
“You’d think in a bank, everybody would know [about] that, but that’s not always the case,” says Miller.
Wellness committee helps employees become healthier
Mary Jo Schmitz, VP of Retail Operations, has been with CUB for more than a decade. When she was selected for the Leadership Academy in 2012, she says she felt honored, overjoyed and respected. Right out of the gate, she sensed she was making a difference — one of the team members needed guidance and, she says, “A couple of us were there to support this individual.”
Schmitz’s team formed CUB’s Wellness Program Committee, and she has been part of innumerable positive changes in the health of other employees at the bank. CUB matches fees on smoking cessation programs and gym memberships. Employees can attend seminars the bank hosts on topics like nutrition and exercise to earn paid time off.
Schmitz was gratified to see co-workers participating in the Wellness Committee’s version of “Biggest Loser.” “Many employees were participating and eating better and learning to live a healthier life,” she says. “Being surrounded by positive change you helped implement is a profound and empowering thing.”
Since participating in the Leadership Academy program, Schmitz has been promoted several times and is still a member of the Wellness Committee.
“I have learned so much. It taught me to look at things differently and to be more positive. It has taught me to offer my suggestions and that it is okay to have a different opinion or ideas,” says Schmitz.
She sees that it has helped her confidence in managing others, speaking and decision making.
“It was nice to work with other employees from other departments. It helped me understand their positions in the bank,” says Schmitz.
Positive change at CUB is ongoing and growing
Miller says that in credit risk management, interdepartmental conversations so often center on enforcing rules and regulations. In the Leadership Academy, he says, “I got to work with people on positive ideas. I would work with a branch manager in one location, or a loan officer in another location, and we can all come together and start bouncing ideas off each other.”
The Leadership Academy builds positive change, a year at a time, but the ongoing programs overlap, growing roots within the bank’s culture and the communities they serve. CUB has been in business for 130 years, and the program carries the tradition forward, cultivating enduring leadership generation by generation.
Want to be part of the CUB team?
Interested in a career at Citizens Union Bank? Click Here