'We want to ensure the best mobile experience'

  • Jose Garcia

    Jose Garcia

Updated 6/17/2021 11:13 AM

Q: Describe your company.

A: Northwest Community Credit Union was first organized in 1939 by the members of a church on the northwest side of Chicago. It has grown into a financially strong, reliable, cooperative with a full breadth of financial services serving suburban Cook, Will and Lake counties.


Q: Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?

A: We are positioning the credit union for growth and have been making significant investments to update our infrastructure, products and services. Over the last several years we updated our systems to provide secured online applications for our membership. This investment allowed us to assist our members during the pandemic. Our goal is to be accessible to our members 24/7. We plan to hire staff to ensure that as we grow, we continue to provide the high level of service that our members are accustomed to.

Q: What will your company's main challenges be in the next year?

A: The main challenge for us continues to be the education of nonmembers on the benefits of joining a credit union. Many people assume that we are a "union" and the reality is we are a financial institution. We are a nonprofit cooperative "owned" by the members. We provide most services you'll find at any bank. Where we're different from banks is our personalized attention to service. As a member, you receive professional advice and consultation from our staff when you need it and a friendly "hello" every time. Plus our rates on both deposit products and loans are considerably better than you will find at most financial institutions. We support the industry initiative of "Open Your Eyes to a Credit Union," which seeks to inform and educate the public on the benefits of credit union membership.

Q: What's the hottest trend in your industry?

A: The hottest trend continues to be mobile technology. Our members desire access to the credit union through their smartphones anytime from anyplace. I feel we have the best mobile apps for our size institution. Our members today can access their accounts and move money, pay bills, deposit checks or even apply for a loan. It is essential that we stay proactive in this area as members have been forced to utilize online services this past year ... and many will continue to do so in the future. We want to ensure the best mobile experience possible.

Q: If you had one tip to give to a rookie executive, what would it be?

A: Any new CEO in the credit union industry must be willing to accept the new ways of "banking." Technology continues to evolve and new players continue to enter our market. There are many new technologies that members are being exposed to daily. CEOs need to stay on top of these advancements and move quickly.

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Q: Do you have a business mantra?

A: Our business mantra is providing the best services to our membership. As our tagline says, "We're here for you." We like to feel that anyone we do business with is family. Everyone has challenges and sometimes people are afraid to ask for help. We want our membership to always ask for assistance when they need it. Whether its consolidation loans, auto loans, mortgages or business loans, we are here for our membership.

Q: From a business outlook, whom do you look up to?

A: There is not any one person. I look at the many successful men and women. From the Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, Marissa Mayer and the new younger innovators like Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page balanced with leaders of our country like Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. We are in an industry that requires state-of-the-art technological advances, fiscal responsibility, innovative marketing and experienced decision-makers. The successful leaders I look up to handle today's challenges and tomorrows unknowns.

Q: What is one interesting fact about you or your company that most people may not know?

A: Northwest Community Credit Union was born in the basement of Immaculate Conception Church in Chicago 82 years ago. We have grown over the years and continue to support the credit union industry motto of "People Helping People." Today our corporate office is located in Morton Grove serving suburban Cook, Will and Lake counties plus many businesses, universities and various organizations across the city of Chicago. We opened an on-campus, student run branch at Saint Xavier University to serve the financial needs of the SXU populations. This working branch is one of only a handful of on-campus, student-run branches in the country. Again, financial literacy is a primary focus.

Q: Was there a moment in your career that didn't go as you had planned? What lesson did you learn from it?

A: My first CEO job at a credit union taught me that board dynamics and working collaboratively is not always viewed as one in the same. I took over a troubled financial institution that needed a strategic plan to move forward in a safe and sound manner. The position was challenging as I realized change is not always accepted regardless of its positive path. As a young 30-year-old CEO, what I learned from this experience has helped me throughout my career.


Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I'm an avid golfer. Just like in business, I enjoy the challenges that present themselves in a game of golf. You need to be able to navigate the obstacles that lay ahead. Each round of golf is different from the prior one, just like each day in business presents different opportunities and challenges.

Q: What book is on your nightstand?

A: Digital Life by Mark Silverwright and Guillermo Kopp. Our industry continues to change from a digital perspective. The pandemic has put lots of focus on the digital experience and how we connect with our members. This book provides some excellent guidance to understand the shift to digital and maximize opportunities for our membership.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: Sometimes if I present a new product or service, I rewind my presentation in my head. I always wonder if I articulated things the best way possible. I constantly learn from the good and bad but try to keep these thoughts to a minimum as a good night sleep is always good.

Q: If you were not doing this job, what do you think you would be doing?

A: If my career took me in a different direction, it would be in technology. Early on in my career, I learned to multi-task and enjoyed data processing and programming. Today, I enjoy the challenges of collecting data from our systems to improve our delivery channels to our membership.

Q: What was your first paying job?

A: I delivered newspapers for the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times as a youngster. I'd be zipping through the neighborhoods of Chicago on my bike making sure the news was delivered on time. Today, we all pick up our smartphones and open our favorite news app. How things have changed.

Q: If you could put your company name on a sports venue, which one would you choose?

A: I would definitely put NWCCU on the Chicago Bulls' venue. The Bulls do a great job of entertaining the fans and keeping them engaged throughout the whole game. Being associated with this type of venue represents us well from the standpoint of consistency of service and having a great product(s).

Q: Two people to follow on Twitter and why. (besides your company)

A: I follow both President Obama and Tim Cook. President Obama is always fair-minded on issues that are important to me. Tim Cook, is innovative in his thinking and I have enjoyed observing how Apple has evolved today under his leadership.

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