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Cale VanGenderen - Take Opportunities When The Opportunity Is Presented

Updated: Feb 13, 2020

A diverse background and a good attitude can take you a long way in this industry as well as in life. We sat down with a very busy Cale VanGenderen to discuss his career path, community impact, and how young professionals can grow and make more of an impact. He is one of the hardest working people in the industry today, we met 6 years ago and he really is someone to look up to in the Credit Union industry.

You have a very interesting career path, tell me the steps you took and how you got your start in the financial industry

I graduated college with a degree in Exercise Science, and I was unsure of what my step into "adult life" was going to look like. I started my career working retail at Jordan Creek Mall in West Des Moines. After 6 months, I was able to get a job with Wells Fargo that moved me to Indianapolis. I spent the majority of the next 7 years in banking in Indianapolis at 3 different banks. I never rose above the level of Assistant Branch Manager in the retail banking segments of those institutions. During that time, I completed my MBA in the evenings at Butler University. That 7 years of post collegiate life through my 20's was the foundation that allowed me to accelerate my career in my 30's. It is so important to learn, learn, learn and take advantage of every opportunity that is given-you never know when you will have the chance to accelerate your career!

Man, 7 years and capped at branch manager, that’s a spot many of us have been in and it is very frustrating to want to grow but have a company limit that growth. No wonder you made the leap into the Credit Union industry. You have been employed with Vibrant for 8 years now, tell me how your roles have changed, how you have grown and how the diversity at the Credit Union has created opportunities for you.

Vibrant has provided me with the opportunity to explore many roles and lead several departments. I've been given the chance to work in branches, mortgage sales, compliance, IT, card/loan/mortgage operations, and now marketing. The world opened for me when I joined Vibrant 8 years ago. Vibrant values people differently than most institutions do. Vibrant looks at an individual's strengths instead of just an individual's employment history. I would not have had to opportunity to learn and grow as much and as quickly as I have if it were not for Vibrant.

As someone who hires people; what are young professionals missing today and what can they do better in order to secure more senior level positions?

The key for anyone today is to take opportunities when the opportunity is presented. I coach all my staff to do this. Even if it seems like a lateral move-the ability to learn more about a business is crucial to moving into and being effective in a senior role. When I was moved into Vibrant's Card Servicing Department, I did not want the responsibility. However, I began to learn and understand the payment system. I was able to leverage that knowledge to make changes to Vibrant's Card Program resulting in a 7 figure financial impact. Owning that particular opportunity accelerated my career much more quickly than if I had turned down the opportunity.

That is really a great mindset to have. Community impact is also huge in the Credit Union industry, what are you involved in in the community.

I am involved with the Quad Cities Chamber and am on the Membership Committee. I also participate in a Peer Roundtable with the Quad Cities Chamber. I volunteer with Junior Achievement throughout the Quad Cities. I have coached youth basketball and soccer through Davenport Parks and Rec for the past 4 years! My family are members at Our Lady of Victory Church in Davenport, and we support many of the initiatives there along with the parish school-John F Kennedy Catholic School.

That is impressive and really spotlights your "take advantage of opportunities that present themselves" mentality. What is some advice you wish someone would have told you earlier in your career.

Listen more, talk less. I've had the benefit to work for many different leaders with varied approaches, skill sets, personalities, and strengths. I wish I could go back and listen more to glean all the good and bad that each of them possessed to help make me more effective in my current and future roles.

Great advice, as a life long learner and very busy person how do you achieve a work life balance?

I try to maximize my time in the office. Once I drop my kids off in the morning, I head straight into the office. It is usually pretty quiet at that point in the morning, so I work on planning for my day or week. I may also work on any "heads down" type of work that does not involve any collaboration. Vibrant is fortunate enough to have a small gym in its Corporate Office. I can take a quick run and be back to my desk in less than 30 minutes. I also rarely take a lunch break unless I have a specific meeting with one of Vibrant's team members or a community member. My goal is to get home to my family as quickly as I can in the evenings. My wife and I both have jobs that require us to work on off hours-having a spouse that understands that requirement helps immensely!

CUltivate is people helping people with our mission to spread the word, connect the people, and give an outlet to share your stories. Know someone in the industry we should interview? Drop us a line at


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