Impact Roadshow Q&A With Tansley Stearns of Filene

Anthem: Let’s start with you. Or, more specifically, your title: Chief Impact Officer for Filene, a think tank dedicated to innovation in the credit union space. No pressure there, right? What does that mean?

Tansley: I know, right? So, I’m responsible for both membership engagement, and continuing to grow membership for the organization. Also in terms of impact, we work to take the very best of our research and innovation and make it practical and applicable for credit unions.

What credit unions have told us over time is that they love the research and innovation but, they ask “what do we do with it?” It’s very unusual, even for the largest credit unions, to have a research and development department. So for them, taking our raw research and using it can be a heavy lift. My team takes the very best of that research and innovation crafted by Filene and helps credit unions apply it in their space.

The challenge, and one of the reasons the roadshow is so helpful, is that because it’s newer for Filene, credit unions don’t really think of us in that way—yet.

Anthem: Where does the research come from?

Tansley: Whether it’s ideas that come out of our i3 program, or from another space, everything we do starts with the research. At Filene, we have a research council comprised of credit union CEOs from across North America who give us time, energy and most importantly, brainpower. They essentially tell us, “here’s what’s keeping me up at night” so that our work is as relevant as possible for credit unions. From there, all the programs we talk about at the roadshow are grounded in that research.

Anthem: You mentioned the roadshow. What, exactly, is the Impact Roadshow?

Tansley: The intention of the roadshow is to share all of the impact programs. In other words, “drinking through the impact fire hose” with us. Because some of the programs are newer, a lot of credit unions don’t know about them. That allows us to share where a particular program came from, what problem it was trying to solve and how they might be able to get involved through discussion. People don’t just listen to me pontificate.

Anthem: What’s the target audience? Who are you looking to have at the other end of these conversations?

Tansley: Anybody who is a leader in a credit union is a fit for this. We talk about individual programs but also developing talent and larger credit union strategy.

Anthem: What’s the response been? Does that influence the kind of takeaway attendees have?

Tansley: The one response I always get—even people who you could call “friends and family” of Filene, is that “gosh, I didn’t know you were doing that and there are a lot of things here that could make us stronger as a credit union.” There’s not a roadshow we do where I don’t get that response, which is why we do them.

Second, what I always commit to, is to make sure there is at least one thing a credit union can take home and take action on. For example, one of the programs we’ll talk about is our digital strategies effort and some of the learning we had through our Amazon pilot and how we’ve leveraged that to create programming that allows credit unions to become stronger in the digital age. And as we talk about that, I will also give some examples of things that a credit union can change on their site tomorrow to make it stronger.

In other words, my commitment is, if they’re going to spend 1 ½ to 2 hours with us, they have something they can take action on right away, tomorrow.

Click here to learn more about the Impact Roadshow or register to attend the next session in SeaTac. To learn more about the Filene i3 program, which is accepting applications for the next round until May 1, visit https://filene.org/innovate.

Questions about this story? Contact Eric Horvath: 503.350.2222, ehorvath@nwcua.org.

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