Erika DeMers - Challenging The Status Quo
All of us at CUltivate have met Erika DeMers at different times, through working with her at Collins Community Credit Union, meeting her at the Global Women’s Leadership Network booth and talking to her at the Iowa Credit Union Convention. So, when we discussed her name as a potential interview candidate it was a unanimous YES! She is so passionate about helping people, staying involved, and the ever-important efforts for women’s advocacy and leadership. We could not be happier that we got some of Erika’s time to chat about her start in the movement, her development, and what motivates her.
How did you get your start in the credit union space?
I was looking for a career change when I was introduced to the credit union philosophy of ‘people helping people’ and I knew that was the right direction for me. I first began my career at Collins Community Credit Union as a Member Service Consultant. It was there I discovered my core values, became passionate about leadership and educating members in financial literacy while helping their financial needs. It was shortly after attending my first CUNA Lending Conference that I decided to commit to this industry.
Tell us about your current role and how you hope to grow and develop?
I’m incredibly passionate about helping people! My current role at LenderClose as Implementation Manager allows me to work closely to our credit union partners throughout the onboarding process. I focus on the experience of the user and every user is different, so being adaptive and flexible is necessary.
Most people are looking forward to new technology solutions which will ultimately provide the speed and the efficiency they seek. Generally, nobody is thrilled about change though, which is why my role is important to make the transition as seamless as possible.
I’ve personally grown a lot in the past few months, working at a rapidly growing startup is a lot of fun, but comes with unexpected demands and challenges. There are days where issues surface yet, I’m still challenged to deliver on the promise. It’s these exact challenges that have helped shape a part of my personal growth. As a result, I’ve spent a lot of time evaluating myself, learning how to lean into and embrace change and the importance of having the right mindset.
What else are you involved in?
I wear multiple hats - Outside of being heavily involved in our clients’ onboarding and setting them up for success, I’m usually working with the SVP of Sales and Director of Operations. Together, we define new processes for integrations and implementing new products. I work closely with our Operations Team and Relationship Managers to ensure our clients needs are continually met as well.
I’m currently launching a group within LenderClose called “WILD” which is Women In Leadership Development. The focus of the group is to have accountability, be able to grow together as women and individually in our roles.
Believe it or not, I’m also second in command for the “Party Planning Committee.” We take fun very seriously at LenderClose! The leadership team counts on me to help maintain the exciting startup culture. As we’re projecting to double the staff in 2020, it’s a challenging task as the team continues to grow. The pressure is on to stay cool, fun, diverse and inclusive.
What other committees or groups are you involved in and why are the important to you?
Promoting women in leadership, especially in the tech industry, is a passion of mine. I make an extra effort to attend all of the women in leadership conferences I can. One of the organizations I belong to is the Global Women's Leadership Network (Click the link to learn more). An initiative aimed for both men and women to tackle the credit union industry’s gender gap by mentoring talent, professional development, leadership skills, and service to community and credit union members. Attending local and national conferences and networking events is a passion of mine - allowing me to stay relevant in the FinTech community.
The GWLN is incredible, we have worked with them in the past and continue to do so, the credit union industry has a ton of great people in it, who or what motives you?
I’m challenging myself to be more intentional about finding strategic mentors, especially women in leadership. I’m looking for mentorships that allow me to experience different leadership styles across the financial industry, especially a C-suite level at a technology company or credit union. I want to better understand their decision making processes and how they balance life and work at that level of demand.
How would you suggest others get more involved?
If one is passionate about making an impact, big or small, you just have to start somewhere. I would encourage my fellow CUSO/credit union peers to get involved in their community and network like it’s going out of style. Start out small at a happy hour, then challenge your networking skills at a business conference or convention. Next thing you know, your network of like-minded people has exploded. Be bold, make moves and be intentional in every effort.
I met COO Ben Rempe and CEO Omar Jordan while CRASHING. I was intrigued by their passion for building disruptive technology to help credit unions achieve speed, efficiency and a better member experience. This unique CRASHER experience was my first introduction to LenderClose.
Wow talk about the power of networking, what do you think are some of the struggles of our generation in the credit union space?
From personal experience as a past credit union employee, credit union member, and now working for a CUSO, I’m at the heart of the digital shift within our industry. I see how the industry remains comfortable with the “status quo,” but also see the first hand results of those making bold changes - lend quicker, processes are more efficient and overall internal/external experiences have improved. Even in the past 3 years, the definition of what “servicing” credit union members has evolved.
In my opinion, member experience isn’t just a smile in the lobby or greeting them by name. There’s an entire generation of members who have different servicing expectations and demand their needs be met quickly, such as receiving push notifications or access to mobile apps. We need to continue to challenge the status quo and consider the next generations’ expectations. In 10 to 20 years, what are those potential members looking for and what can you be doing now?
What other passions do you dedicate your time to outside the CU industry?
My biggest (but littlest) passion outside of the industry is my 6 year old daughter. We spend most of our time playing board games, riding bikes or skateboards, cracking jokes and making TikTok videos. She’s active in gymnastics and will be soccer in the spring. I stay active by hitting the bike trails, dog walking on the weekends, and getting lost in the latest fiction novel.
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 CultivateYP@gmail.com