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3 lessons on teamwork from March Madness

By John Pettit

This time of year sees spikes it two areas: The number of people who are watching college basketball and the number of scheduled vasectomies (due to the benefit of skipping work to watch March Madness). It’s really not surprising. If you’re going to have that procedure done, you might as well do it when you can spend the days after watching nonstop college basketball. But it’s not all slacking off and recovering. You can really learn a few things from the greatest teams in college basketball…

Next man up: Whether it’s injury, sickness, or suspension, sometimes you’re missing a player or two from your starting lineup. The Michigan Wolverines started their tournament without point guard DeVante’ Jones, but fortunately had the benefit of a bench of players to use and still got the win in the first game of the day on Thursday. In much the same way, you need to have backup ready to fill in when one of your “starters” is out. If you haven’t fully developed your business continuity plan, an app like Tango might be a great way to get started.

You can’t do it alone: Every once in a while, you’ll have what they call a “Cinderella” team in college basketball. A Cinderella is a team that greatly exceeds expectations. Back in 2011, 11 seed Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) made the tournament without winning their conference tournament and became the first team to go from the First Four (play-in game) all the way to the Final Four. How did they do it? Superstars? Nope. They had a team who believed in each other, knew their individual roles, and played as one. This should be a goal of your team as well.

Gotta be prepared: You may not be involved in long practices or spend hours watching film, but when it comes to team projects and goals, you have to be prepared throughout each step of the process. Just as a coach holds his team accountable after every game, as a leader you need to find ways to make sure your team is engaged and ready for anything that might come their way in the duration of a project.

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Building a world-class sales culture at your CU

By Summer Naomi Interior

Culture. It’s a word we throw around a lot, but creating precisely the kind that cultivates ALL the good stuff at your CU? That’s not an easy ask.

Luckily, we got to sit down with an expert on the subject. Ali Migaki, Chief Retail Officer at iQ Credit Unionhelped to build a world-class sales culture there. And she shares top tips—this week on CRMNEXT’s Banking on Experience.

What’s covered?

Sales Culture at your CU: a taboo topic? 

While sales culture may seem a tricky subject, Ali doesn’t feel it’s necessarily avoided. The root of the problem, in her opinion? Not having the voice of the staff as the foundation for building the right type of culture.

She’s big on incorporating what she calls “rewarding relationships” into the sales culture at iQ. “We’re rewarding our staff by having conversations,” she says, “and by knowing and meeting the member where they’re at. We utilize our staff first, and then what is the business need, and then build the sales culture from there.”

Biggest mistakes made in developing culture. 

First things first: Before going crazy collecting tools and resources, Ali suggests you first build what you want your sales culture to be. As she puts it, “The tools and resources will make things more efficient, will make you look more intelligent, will create a platform for data—but it’s really about the staff.”

Second, don’t underestimate the value of finding the right sales culture partner – one that’s going to “embrace the same values that you embrace.” For iQ CU, that’s Integrity Solutions. They’ve helped in a number of ways- not the least of which is in proactively finding solutions to potential future problems.

iQ CU’s Reward System (and why it rocks).

Ali shares so much fantastic info here about the rewards system they’ve established, and you’ll definitely want to listen in. But suffice it to say, the words “gamification,” “real-time,” and “recognition” come up a LOT here.

Ultimately, what it all comes down to is “rewarding the behaviors that you’re looking for,” says Ali. “So, while we are an integrity-based, needs-based credit union, we’re driving the behavior that we’re looking for from the staff. And that’s really about creating a relationship with the member and placing a product or service that’s going to make their lives much easier.”

Some of Ali’s success stories. 

Our expert is particularly proud of the in-house CRM program at iQ. It’s been decades in the making, but—whether it’s building tech or culture—she’s quick to emphasize that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Ali credits much of her culture’s success to a huge emphasis on recognition. It’s all about “making sure that the staff feel valued and that we have buy-in, because that creates the sales culture that we embrace every day.”

First Steps: where to start in creating the culture you want

Ali’s top recommendation for getting started? Create a “task force” from across your team who can help you gather the voice of the employee.

“As an executive team, you have to have executive buy-in. And, if your culture is really about the people and people helping people, you’ll go and create mini task forces and committees to really dive in and see—what do you want to be known for? What is your brand?… Building a really strong foundation and creating the voice of the employee and creating that buy-in is huge.”

Start there, and you’ll be well on your way to creating your credit union’s ideal sales culture.

Want to contact our expert?

You can reach Ali via email at, or on her cell at (360) 901-3323.

Find this interview, and many more by subscribing to Banking on Experience Podcast on iTunes. You can also find us on SpotifyGoogle Podcasts, or visit our page on Casted.

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Bridging the member experience gap through APIs

By Pam Brodsack, SVP, Technology Delivery 

The strategy of embracing digital looks different at every credit union. There are a few emerging best practices, however, helping many credit unions deliver digital innovation at the pace members expect. Among these shared approaches is the integration of application programming interfaces or APIs, which have eliminated the need for developers to build digital solutions from scratch.

APIs have become one of the most valuable tools in a developer’s tool chest. Now, with the addition of two new integration options from Co-op Solutions, they’ve become even more valuable.

APIs Enable Thousands of Lifestyle Micro-Moments

An API is code that allows two applications or systems to connect and share information with each other. In short: APIs allow websites, mobile apps and IoT devices to streamline the flow of information and back-end processes so that the experience feels seamless to the end-user.

We may not realize it, but APIs enable many of the digital experiences we depend on to complete everyday tasks, like:

  • Logging into a website using an email or social media account credentials. That website uses an API to connects our accounts to its login process.
  • Comparing airline ticket prices on a travel site. APIs are used to pull that information from different sources in real-time.
  • Pulling up the weather, playing a favorite podcast or searching a recipe on Amazon Alexa. Amazon uses APIs to connect across multiple services at once.

Using APIs to Level the Digital Experience Playing Field

Over the past several years – and especially during the pandemic’s rapid uptick in digital demand – APIs have leveled the playing field for many legacy providers, including credit union. According to our research in partnership with EY (formerly Ernst & Young), there’s as much as a 34-percent upside to a credit union’s financial growth when they add a set of digital features members view as highly valuable to their existing offerings.

But, that’s not always easy for credit unions that lack the multi-million dollar technology resources to add these features at the same pace or sophistication level as banks and well-funded fintechs. Instead, credit unions have leveraged APIs to quickly introduce new competitive digital features and enhancements.

For Co-op’s credit union partners, this strategy is getting even easier thanks to the availability of the Co-op Developer Portal. The platform, built specifically for credit union developers and their vendor partners, makes it simple to adopt solutions into a credit union’s digital applications regardless of channel or vendor. And, there is an expanding set of options for doing exactly that.

Integration options exist because no single credit union is the same as the next. We understand each credit union’s stage of digital transformation requires a partner that can meet them where they are.

Customizable API options have been designed to meet every credit union’s needs, from integration resources and environment to strategic priorities, like time-to-market and optimal member experience. Soon, credit union developers will have access to even more choices with the launch of pre-packaged software development kits (SDKs) and drop-in user interfaces (UIs) integration options.

  • SDKs: Collection of software development tools in a single, language-specific, installable package. SDKs enables faster customization and integration into a credit union’s digital UI.
  • Drop-In UIs: Fully packaged integrations that can easily be “dropped” into a credit union’s digital UI. The UIs are pre-defined and more fully-formed use cases that reduce development time and cost by removing resource and prioritization constraints.

Each of the above will save developers anywhere from hundreds to thousands of hours in development time compared to a traditional API development process.

Bringing the Power of APIs to Your Credit Union’s Payments Experience

We all agree member experience remains core to the growth of the credit union movement. APIs will be critical to delivering on the fast-evolving expectations of both members and prospects.

At the end of the day, APIs hasten a credit union’s digital transformation journey. By lowering costs and speeding up the roll out of new digital services, the technology meets what has become a meteoric demand for digital financial services.

Credit unions in the Co-op ecosystem can access our growing library of APIs through the Co-op Developer Portal. We also offer resources, technical support and a beta environment to help speed the time to implementation. Contact us to learn more! 

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Propelling women in tech is a marathon — and a sprint

Nuseiba Al-Harazi, a sophomore computer science major at George Mason University in northern Virginia, spent her winter break at Mastercard, where she worked closely with Miri Baker, an Arlington, Virginia,-based software engineering director in the company’s Data & Services business.

They’re nearly a decade apart in age — Baker graduated from Georgia Tech with a computer science degree in 2015 — but both say that women were vastly underrepresented in their classes and coding clubs.

Already something of an introvert, particularly when so outnumbered by men in the classroom, Al-Harazi says the Mastercard micro-internship — part of an expanding program by the organization Break Through Tech to accelerate gender equity in tech — helped her step out of her comfort zone.

“It was so nice to finally talk to a (virtual) room full of all women and not men,” Al-Harazi says. “There is an unmatched energy and sense of power when a group full of women come together, and I’m incredibly thankful I was able to gain this experience.”

It’s crunch time for women in tech, where female employment and seniority gains in the sector have been threatened by what has been termed the “she-cession,” with women dropping out of the workforce in higher numbers than men — often because the burden of child care and elder care falls disproportionately on women. Four in 10 women in tech report they have been held back from pursuing career changes during the pandemic due to home or family pressures, according to a 2021 report by Kaspersky.

“There is an unmatched energy and sense of power when a group full of women come together.”
Nuseiba Al-Hazari

One way to change this trajectory is by growing the pipeline, says Judith Spitz, who in 2016 founded a New York City-based public-private partnership to increase the number of women pursuing tech careers. Now known as Break Through Tech, the organization brings together both sides of a city’s supply chain — universities and businesses — to propel women into computing degrees and technology careers, pairing them with a network of women to develop and learn from.

One of Break Through Tech’s marquee programs is the three-week “Sprinternship” in computing or artificial intelligence, which prepares students to master the technology skills and gain the industry experience they need to launch their tech careers. The organization has expanded the model to Chicago and the Washington, D.C. metro area, and later this year will debut in Miami.

Mastercard, a founding partner in Break Through Tech, has sponsored 25 Sprinternships in its New York City Tech Hub and Arlington offices, and mentors 40 to 60 women each summer as part of the organization’s Summer Guild Bootcamp.

During Al-Harazi’s time at Mastercard, she collaborated with members of the Architecture team to improve single sign-on for client groups. The enhancements make authentication more seamless for Mastercard customers and strengthen the security of the payments system as a whole.

“Even though we were all college students, we weren’t treated like interns at all,” Al-Harazi says. “We were given the independence to work at our own pace while being assigned the correct personnel and resources to get everything done.

“They kept telling us that they are our cheerleaders and want us to be successful, even if that means taking our passions to another place to intern next summer. That meant so much to me.”

The Mastercard program also included a speaker series with executives, leadership training, tech talks about front-end and back-end development and data science, and mentoring from female executives.

“Course correction needs to come from every section of the industry,” Baker says. “It starts with girls not feeling unnatural answering a question in their math or science courses. Once their voices are spoken and they feel supported, we must continue to create an environment that women choose to come back to and can truly thrive in.”

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OE Federal Credit Union joins PSCU Cooperative

March 17, 2022 — PSCU, the nation’s premier payments credit union service organization (CUSO), has announced that OE Federal Credit Union (OE Federal) has joined the cooperative for credit and debit processing support and services.

Headquartered in Livermore, Calif., OE Federal has been serving its members since 1964, guided by its mission to provide union members with a banking partner that understands the unique challenges of the construction trades. Today, OE Federal is the country’s largest labor-based credit union, spanning across six states and 125 union groups.

With over $1.4 billion in assets, OE Federal was looking for a true payments partner that displayed a willingness to work with the credit union, its employees and members to help them gain maximum value from the credit union’s payments solutions. In addition, OE Federal was interested in working with an organization with a documented history of investing in technology and delivering solutions in close partnership with credit unions. OE Federal found its fit in PSCU following a comprehensive review process.

“PSCU had everything we were looking for in a partner, and we were especially impressed by their member-facing technology that will help us deliver an exceptional member experience,” said Deepak Godhwani, chief financial officer of OE Federal. “PSCU’s history of supporting members directly with its 24/7/365 member support services was also an important part of our decision as it demonstrated an expertise and commitment to supporting credit union members directly.”

PSCU will begin providing credit and debit processing services and support to more than 89,600 OE Federal members in November 2022.

“OE Federal’s dedication to serving its members is a priority shared by PSCU, making the partnership a natural fit,” said Chris Gunnare, SVP, chief sales officer at PSCU. “We look forward to our burgeoning relationship with OE Federal and delivering best-in-class services to its members, supported by our cutting-edge technologies and tools.”

About PSCU

PSCU, the nation’s premier payments CUSO, supports the success of 1,900 credit unions representing nearly 7 billion transactions annually. Committed to service excellence and focused on innovation, PSCU’s payment processing, risk management, data and analytics, loyalty programs, digital banking, marketing, strategic consulting and mobile platforms help deliver possibilities and seamless member experiences. Comprehensive, 24/7/365 member support is provided by contact centers located throughout the United States. The origin of PSCU’s model is collaboration and scale, and the company has leveraged its influence on behalf of credit unions and their members for more than 40 years. Today, PSCU provides an end-to-end, competitive advantage that enables credit unions to securely grow and meet evolving consumer demands. For more information, visit