CU Champion: Jennifer Patrick is Finding the True Voice of Members at Honor
In October, Honor Credit Union announced the hire of Jennifer Patrick as VP of member experience. Patrick, who is a graduate of CUNA Management School, brings to the role 17 years of experience in the credit union industry, with previous roles including EVP, VP of operations, VP of HR, branch manager, assistant branch manager, and most recently, VP of branch service delivery and VP of branch operations.
MCUL talked with her recently about that experience and the opportunities this new position gives her.
MCUL: What drew you to the CU industry for your career?
JP: After graduating college with my bachelor’s degree in management, I took a job as a store manager for a local dry cleaning chain. While the people and customers were amazing, the job required long hours and I had a young family at the time. The hours were starting to take a toll and it wasn’t a job I was passionate about. Over lunch, a friend of mine shared that the credit union across from the mall was hiring and suggested I apply. I have always been a credit union member and it seemed like a great opportunity to get out of my current situation.
I took a job as a teller thinking it would be temporary until I found another management job and just fell in love with the industry. There are not that many careers out there where you can say that you help people everyday and I get to and that means something to me. The level of commitment I witnessed from the very beginning to do what is right for our members, employees and the community made me want to never leave the industry. All these years later, that has not changed.
What has your time in the industry been like?
It’s been a whirlwind. We live in a world of constant change so there are always challenges to work through. I’ve experienced a high-interest-rate environment, a low-interest-rate environment, recessions, the housing market crash, a pandemic and all the chaos in between. While it was exhausting at times, it's really been a phenomenal journey. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing people, positively impact change and learn so much. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Now that you’ve been at Honor for a couple months, can you talk about what the experience has been like so far?
I love being part of the Honor team. There is a strong organizational commitment to the credit union philosophy of “people helping people.” Day one, as a new team member, I learned about Honor’s history, mission, values and commitments and how I, as a new team member, could contribute. The connection to values and commitments has continued throughout my journey and is a topic of conversation in leadership meetings and in the member centers with our teams.
It’s so refreshing to work for an organization that “walks the talk.” The people here really do think of each other as a team and there is a lot of open communication, collaboration and comradery. We remember not to take ourselves too seriously and to have fun. I don’t think I’ve laughed this much in a long time. I really feel like I found my home here at Honor and am so excited for the things we will continue to accomplish together.
As a VP of Member Experience, what are the most important aspects of your job — what is most vital to the member experience?
Understanding what is important to our members. There are so many resources out there that talk about customer experience and what it might look like in the future, but I believe that what it looks like depends on the needs of the members you serve. There is likely a niche of people who are very interested in the Metaverse and would love their financial institution to move in that direction, but there is also a large population that has no desire to enter the Metaverse to handle their financial needs. Finding the true voice of your members and leveraging technology to allow them to bank where they want, when they want and how they want is what we should be striving for. I know that is what we are striving for at Honor.
Connecting with our teams and understanding how I can help them do their best work each and every day. Asking questions to uncover barriers and removing obstacles is a key component to member experience. Employees and members alike want doing business with Honor to be easy and painless. It is my job to make that a reality, with the help of my teams, of course.
Filtering through the noise. There is never a shortage of new things on the market, projects and things to be done. Understanding what the most important things to our members and employees are allows me to be a good advocate for change.
What are the primary principles that guide your work on a daily basis?
Integrity, curiosity, humility and empathy always guide me. I am a “fixer” by nature and love helping people. These core values, and how they align to Honor’s commitments, were a deciding factor in making the decision to join the team. Staying true to who you are is important. People know when you’re genuine and when you are not. I love that I can bring my authentic self to work each day, quirks and all, and know that I am embraced for who I am.
As you get comfortable in your new role, what excites you the most about this stage of your career?
I can influence change to positively impact our team and the experience we provide to our members. I really enjoy finding solutions, and by embracing Honor’s “better than before” expectation, I am able to bring new ideas and solutions to the organization. Additionally, being in Member Experience, my department touches everything, so I get to lead, participate in and share feedback on almost all of the credit unions’ initiatives, which is very rewarding.
Can you talk about a mentor you’ve had along the way?
Early in my career, I had a peer mentor that was very different from me. Having her to bounce ideas off of and talk to about my frustrations was invaluable. She was able to help me see things from a different perspective and together we could work through problems to find more amicable resolutions than I would have come to on my own. She really helped me understand the value in surrounding yourself with a diverse group of people. I continue to seek diverse opinions and to this day I still call her to bounce ideas and sometimes for a good vent session. Having someone who is not afraid to “tell you like it is” and to know it’s coming from a place of love is awesome. Everyone needs that.