Noah Kachelski - Career Growth and Personal Growth
Noah Kachelski has continually looked for ways to grow within the industry while helping other young professionals along the way. As a CRASHER, Mentor, and active volunteer in the community it is Noah’s mission to help others achieve their goals while reliving all the ups and downs of his credit union journey. I had the privilege of working with Noah at his CRASHER experience and again when he was a CRASH Mentor, and he is extremely passionate about the work he does, how he carries himself, and of course how he helps others. We sat down with Noah to hear more about this journey and where he is at today in his career.
What has been the biggest adjustment in your career.
The biggest adjustment I had to make was to realize I don’t have all the answers and now know, why would I? This realization came to me after I graduated from college. It’s easy to think that I paid for this education, I should be ready to lead people at my job/career. This is definitely not the case. Leadership is earned, not bought. The business world is more about collaboration and team success. And that is especially true in a credit union.
Tell me about working for a smaller credit union and now one of the largest credit unions in Iowa.
There are very stark differences between working in a small credit union and a large one. In my experience at my previous job at a small credit union, these generally come down to working directly with senior staff and strategic planning. Leaders at my last credit union hired me specifically because I had experience working at a car dealership. My role, other than working with members on their accounts/loans, was to reach out to local dealerships and set up a lending relationships with them. The credit union was too small to justify a full on “indirect” relationship with the accompanying expenses from software and staffing requirements, so we went with the old fashioned route of calling the dealerships to establish a point of contact and that we were able to assist their customers to acquire financing for a vehicle.
Working at a far larger credit union now, my job is more specialized. I still work with members to open and maintain their accounts along with loan applications, but the back office and processing functions are removed from what I do. This does allow me to focus more of my energy directly on the person who is sitting across from me. I thoroughly enjoy being a member of a large and highly efficient credit union. I do my part, and I know there’s an entire support structure around me working toward the same goals.
Talk about your involvement with the League and your CRASHER experiences.
The CRASHER experience in Cedar Rapids was a whirlwind. It was a great experience for someone just starting in the credit union world. I thought a convention that lasted a few days would be somewhat slow or even tedious, but I found it to be the exact opposite. As a CRASHER, I was able to go to some of the breakout sessions experienced professionals attended and learned what they learned. It gave me valuable insight I was unlikely to get any other way at that stage of my career. Though we were able to attend various functions with other convention attendees, the Crashers had their own sessions and their own set of speakers.
In my second year at the convention, I returned as a mentor with the CRASHERS. My job was to assist the current CRASHERS in getting the most out of their experience. It was interesting coming back to the same ICUL convention (albeit in Des Moines) and reliving through the new CRASHERS how overwhelmed and exited I had been the year before.
The overall CRASHER experience is incredibly valuable to newer credit union employees because it allows them to see why we do what we do. It’s all oriented around service and education. The ICUL knew what it was doing when it implemented this program.
What do you do to stay motivated, how has COVID-19 affected your day to day?
I’m the kind of person who wants to be busy all the time, and I’m a people person. I am lucky that I only had to work from home for about a week. I strongly prefer working in the office as it allows me to make personal connections with our members and my fellow employees. Due to the pandemic, our lobby traffic is restricted to Safe Deposit Box access and Mortgage Closings. In between phone calls, appointments, and email requests, I take on tasks to stay busy and learn.
More than half of our workforce has been working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak. Those of us still working on-site have had to take on new roles to keep things moving. Member Service Representatives who are still in branch like me are pitching in however we can. In my case, I have taken on the temporary role of closing mortgage purchases and refinances for our Real Estate department, which I am enjoying. This pandemic has allowed us to demonstrate our commitment to teamwork in many new ways.
What can we as young professionals do a better job of?
As young professionals, the best thing we can do from a career standpoint is to be flexible and to be open to new learning opportunities. Take advantage of the wisdom and experience of those who have gone before us, and understand they used to be where we are now. This takes me back to the first point I made. I thought I was ready to be a leader, but I was somewhat naïve; I hadn’t earned it. Young professionals need to learn how to accept constructive criticism and not be afraid of making mistakes. No one is perfect, but if you understand the credit union’s mission and are committed to it, you can continually improve and increase your contribution to the organization’s success, and help others do the same.
Talk about your day to day in the credit union.
I don’t really have a typical day, and that’s a good thing, in my opinion. As a member service representative, I’m required to be a Swiss Army knife. The common denominator is that every day I have the opportunity to help our members in some way. I am delighted when they are delighted. And whether it’s something about our operations or something about our members, I learn something knew almost every day.
As I said, during the COVID-19 outbreak, I worked from home for about a week until my help was needed in the mortgage department. I’ve just completed three weeks of training. In the foreseeable future, I’ll be assisting our members with mortgage closings, another way to serve our members and another new learning experience for me.
How do you spend your free time and what is next for you in your journey?
I do participate in various community activities and service throughout the year. My favorite was being our credit union’s mascot, Dollar, at some of the events here in Dubuque. At the moment, these events are nonexistent, though my hope is that these opportunities open back up when this all blows over.
I really enjoy what I do and I am proud to work for Dupaco. Through Dupaco, I’ve received plenty of training and education opportunities; the leadership understands that member experience is key and investing in the employees is good business. I just hope I can continue to learn, be exposed to new experiences, and take on more responsibility over time.
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