I began my financial career about three years ago at the local credit union. I learnt so much during my time there and, although I left with hard feelings, I look fondly at that time period of my life. The lessons learnt came one after another, but I never expected for one of those lessons to only have an impact three years later.
Today’s news caught many people off guard. The local credit union announced a proposed merger with one of the biggest credit unions in the province. This merger will take the local credit union — which has its original branch in my hometown — to the pinnacle of Manitoba’s credit unions and would place it within reach of the top five largest (in terms of asset base) credit unions in the country. Pretty impressive for a small town financial institution if you ask me.
When I was employed there, the institution went through significant changes. Most importantly, the credit union hired a new CEO. That CEO’s job was to take the credit union from its past small town roots and prepare it for a future of immense asset and territorial growth. This proposed merger embodies the very goal he set out to achieve.
But that’s what got me into trouble. You see, the local credit union was broken into many branches when I worked there, and each branch had its own personality. I worked at the largest and highest-traffic branch, and due to the historical roots of the branch, it was also the most immune to change. Everyone at the branch resented the widespread changes which took place in that time period. Everyone in the branch questioned the new CEO and his tactics. Each person metaphorically spat when they said his name.
But I didn’t. In fact, I was behind the new CEO 100%. The inefficiences he was aiming to squash and the proposed plan he had in place were top notch in my opinion. And express my opinion I did.
As a fresh, know-it-all graduate, this got me into trouble. My direct co-workers (those in the same position) may have respected me, but my superiors had no place for someone who questioned their direct authority or for someone who didn’t share the same branch views. I applauded the CEO for his changes, and in essence, I was spitting back at my direct superiors in the process.
So I was forced out. I was issued warnings in my final weeks of employment and nobody stopped me when I said was leaving to become a designated accountant. I even learnt months afterward that my supervisors talked extremely unprofessionally about me behind my back.
Naturally, the news that hit the front pages of local media today struck me as pure vindication. All along, I knew the CEO was on the right track. I knew some people and some historical values had to be pushed aside to achieve that success. I knew it would take a lot of questioning to get where he wanted to go.
And he got there. Fair and square.
But that vindication… do I feel good that I can say I told you so? Not one bit. This vindication makes me sick to my stomach.
In the merging process, some current employees could lose their jobs. Members may not receive the same products they once did. Credit union account holders will increasingly become another number in a long line of numbers instead of a cherished member who is known the minute they walk through the door.
There’s a ton of assumptions in the words I have written above, but I know being right in this situation has not turned out the way I had hoped. A few years back, I wanted to see my direct superiors crash and burn for their unprofessional actions. Now I worry for them. I have become afraid for the friends I made while I worked there. And I have developed a deep respect for some of the historical roots those people held onto for so long.
I hope there are no hard feelings between myself and any of the people there — if I see any of those people in the grocery store, I hope both parties will have the decency to say hello.
That hope only developed today though, after I realized my childishness for holding onto a grudge for so long. I expected vindication to feel great, but it turned around and taught me a valiant lesson. I’m a better person — and a better accountant — thanks to my experience at the credit union. Those lessons continue to instill themselves to this day.
Best of luck to the local credit union as they embark on a tremendous opportunity. I hope those great people can do my hometown proud by putting the credit union on the national map.