CEO Success Stories

Common Ground And Shared Growth

David Snodgrass

Starting his credit union career working for the NCUA taught David Snodgrass as much about people as it did about capital infrastructure

“We all do our best to walk a mile in the other person’s shoes. I did that for a number of years working with credit union leaders in multiple scenarios, first as an Examiner and later as a Problem Case Officer. I came to see that problems are inherent in credit union business, where risk is part of the process. But the way we solve the problems and build upon what works is what moves people and credit unions ahead. We have to serve members and maintain our margin. When we look at the true bottom line, we see we are here for the same reason: to keep our members and our credit unions financially strong and growing. I learned then and have not forgotten that we all walk and work on common ground.”

As David and his wife moved further into parenthood (three daughters), he came to feel, as many do, that life on the road was taking too much time away from what mattered most. “As I looked for what would work well for me and my family, I was very fortunate to land the CFO position at Affinity FCU ($2.2B) based in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. I would not trade my 17 years at Affinity for anything. As we all know, the people from whom we learn are key to our growth. I couldn’t have had a better mentor than the CEO there, John Fenton. He asked me early on what my career goalswere and I told him I wanted to be a CEO. Far from being threatened, John did everything he could to ensure that I, along with my colleagues, kept getting new opportunities, and he opened opportunities for me to become Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer.”

Arriving at Lake Trust in 2011, David came to a credit union that had exceeded a billion dollars in assets and had over 150,000 members spread through 35 counties in Michigan. Growth had come through a series of mergers, including one that linked two $800M credit unions. “Those who think that the operational integration in a merger is paramount are just partly right. What really matters is cultural integration, which requires the time and patience it takes to build trust. That process is full of starts and stops. Leadership and action must be guided by principles. At Lake Trust it begins, continues, ends, and continues again with living the brand and acting upon moments of truth. It is not about words. It is about action.”

In addition to the renewal he gets from family time, David keeps himself fresh with running, golfing and motorcycling. At work, he is lifted by learning. “I learn so much from others in credit unions, whether it’s a conversation with a teller or insights from outstanding resources like Filene and Callahan’s. I admire people who are open and businesses that are innovative. When I look at people who appear to be doing well at both personal and professional levels, I see selfawareness. None of us is ever the smartest person in the room. We learn from credit unions and businesses of all kinds. I know I am fortunate to have this job. This work is very important. I must always bring good people, useful action, and results together for the benefit of everyone. We grow together standing upon common ground.”

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