Shelli Bardsley: A 2021 Summit Icon
November 9, 2021
When Shelli Bardsley accepted her Summit Icon award at NWCUA’s Summit Awards Gala on Oct. 7, she tearfully expressed her surprise at being named the winner of the evening’s most prestigious honor. But as those who have worked with her for more than four decades know, “Icon” is the perfect way to describe her.
Why She Won
Since beginning her credit union career in the early 1980s, Shelli has become a cornerstone of Idaho Central Credit Union, spearheading strategies to drive the cooperative’s talent acquisition and retention, membership growth, and community involvement.
But many will assert that what truly makes her an iconic leader is her vision, appreciation for perfection, drive for excellence, and competitive nature, which motivates and inspires her team as well as everyone around her.
A Champion for Employees
As the Chief Administrative Officer and Executive Vice President, Shelli’s focus on human resources, training, marketing, and business development has been instrumental in building an outstanding work culture at ICCU.
She has developed valuable human resources programs and competitive benefits packages, positively impacting the financial lives of credit union staff. In 2007, she established a partnership with Talent Plus, a premier global human resources firm specializing in the selection, development, mentoring, and retention of people. Under her guidance, ICCU has been named Best Place to Work in Idaho for more than 10 years.
“During my time at ICCU, I’ve been closely connected to our team member’s pay and benefits. I’ve worked hard to provide a positive, fun workplace that team members could love while they are also providing for their families,” Shelli told Anthem. “One of the things I’ve enjoyed most has been developing a talent-based workforce. By focusing on what people are able to do well and enjoy naturally, they’re able to contribute in ways that are exponentially more meaningful to them as individuals and to our credit union.”
She explained that this emphasis on employees’ well-being and happiness in the workplace is paramount to an organization’s overall success.
“The mission of Idaho Central is ‘helping members achieve financial success,’ and if every team member of ICCU believes in the mission and sees how they make an impact on our members’ lives, then they will stay with ICCU for a long time. We know that happy employees make happy members, which helps our credit union grow in a healthy way.”
Speaking of growth — the proof is in the pudding. Between Shelli’s passion for developing talent and strategic approach to member promotions, she is credited with helping ICCU meet membership growth goals while maintaining financial stability. In fact, the credit union has held a steady growth rate of at least 12%, year over year, since 2012. Today, ICCU is the state’s largest credit union serving more than 475,000 members and counting.
A Firm Believer in the Credit Union Mission
As a dedicated credit union advocate, Shelli has attended MAXX Conventions and Idaho Credit Union Days at the Capitol, traveled to Washington D.C. to share her credit union’s story with elected officials, and participated in the Idaho Governor’s Cup, where she emphasized credit unions’ commitment to the “People Helping People” philosophy — a philosophy that she also lives by.
In her Summit Icon nomination, Kent Oram, ICCU CEO, wrote, “Shelli is one of the most generous people you’ll ever meet,” before listing countless ways she’s given back to her community. “She’s the first one to buy cookie dough, punch cards, or anything else kids are selling to raise money. By purchasing these items, she’s able to encourage them and support the causes they are passionate about.”
Through the years, Shelli has attended and participated in many nonprofit events in the state and actively supports the Idaho foodbank, Idaho Gives, the United Way, and other organizations.
The Perfect End to an Inspiring Evening
It was a complete surprise for Shelli to hear her name called from the stage that fateful evening on the final day of MAXX. But for her colleagues at ICCU, it was the cherry on top of a secret project weeks in the making, in which they filmed and edited a congratulatory ode to Shelli, complete with personal messages from her friends, family, and team members. As the video played on the large screen, the full scope of Shelli’s impact was clear.
“I was so humbled, honored, and surprised to receive this award! My family and team did a great job of keeping this a secret and being recognized for almost 40 years of work at Idaho Central Credit Union was so special,” said Shelli. “I would especially like to thank our CEO, Kent Oram, for trusting me and supporting me along the way and for giving ICCU the heart it has today. I’ve loved working at Idaho Central Credit Union. I’ve put my entire heart into it every day.”
Her advice for young credit union professionals on their journey to becoming iconic leaders?
“It’s important to believe in where you work and what you do. Your personal values should be in line with the values of where you work. The biggest way to make an impact is to work hard to become an expert in your current role, then continue a journey to be a life-long learner.”
Editor’s Note: Click here to read all four parts of the “Why They Won” series and learn more about this year’s Summit Award winners!