PFCU helps develop young employees
By Mark Sherry
The Young Professionals at Premier Financial Credit Union include (from left) Sarah Perl, Sonny Schaar, Fritzy Brady, Katie Karls, Kate Schneider, Sara Cardinal, and Rachelle Bessert.

If the saying “youth are our future” is true, then members of Premier Financial Credit Union will be in good hands for decades to come.

The New Holstein based credit union—which also has offices in Kiel and Chilton—is taking advantage of a program offered through the Wisconsin Credit Union League (WCUL) called Young Professionals (YP).

The voluntary program is providing “wins” all around—for the young professionals employed by Premier Financial, for their supervisors and managers, and, again, for the member-owners of the credit union.

WCUL started the Young Professionals program “because credit unions who run lean often don’t do a good job developing the maturity of their younger staff,” said Steve Nothem, president and chief executive officer of Premier Financial.

Improving leadership skills

YP helps younger employees—defined as 35 and under—of Premier Financial build on their character and leadership skills. Community service is encouraged and rewarded, and public speaking skills are honed through presentations made to the full credit union staff. “I think many credit unions—but business in general— have recognized that as a weakness in some young professionals,” Nothem said.

Premier Financial currently has eight Young Professionals in its group. They try to meet monthly over the lunch hour and also are sent on a rotating basis to some statewide programs put on by the WCUL for Young Professionals. These activities help the Young Professionals identify their strengths and weaknesses and work on both.

At Premier Financial, the Young Professionals also have taken the lead on some community service projects, such as RACK—Random Acts of Christmas Kindness. They arranged to have $5 gift cards purchased for local stores and then passed out by Premier Financial employees on a random basis in the community just before Christmas.

The Young Professionals at Premier Financial also held a car wash for Relay for Life, and they also served breakfast as a way to raise funds for their community giving project.

“The object is for management to get out of the way and let them run with the ball,” Nothem said.

Building skills

Sonny Schaar of Premier Financial said she believes YP has been valuable for everyone and she has seen growth in its participants. Some of them were called upon to prepare and present a program to other employees on the history of the local credit union, helping them to build their public speaking/presentation skills.

Those skills will only help them interact with the member-owners of Premier Financial, and having top-notch member service is highly valued by the credit union.

“All our offices have a renewed focus to make sure when we see you, it’s an unforgettable experience,” Nothem said.

He added that Premier Financial began its One Team, One Goal effort in 2012 to try to “step up its game” when it comes to member services. Its “game” was already good, of course, but Nothem said he believes it can always be better. Training throughout 2013 kept the mo-

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