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Credit Unions as Employers of Choice for the New MBA

This report tracks the activities, challenges, and successes of Filene’s endeavor to place top MBA candidates at credit unions across the country.

Executive Summary

In a rapidly changing and commoditized industry like consumer financial services, talent and creativity are like air and water—necessary for the short- and long-term health of credit unions. With the industry under heavy regulations and intense competitive pressure, talent and creativity are two of the few competitive advantages available. 

Fostering talent in credit unions is a core priority of the Filene Research Institute and is behind well-known efforts like i3, “radical sabbaticals,” PhD funding, and the 30 Under 30 group. Add to that list the institute’s newest talent project: Filene Summer Fellowships.

What is the research about?

For the summers of 2008 and 2009, Filene selectively placed summer fellows, most of them MBA candidates, at credit unions across the country. This report tracks the activities, challenges, and successes of the fellows and the credit unions that hosted them. While acknowledging the hurdles credit unions have to clear, it also provides a primer for those that want to make themselves a destination of choice for talented, up-and-coming business minds. Finally, the report outlines four credit union innovation ideas from this summer’s MBA fellows.

What are the credit union implications?

Attracting MBA interns is a strategic opportunity for credit unions, because it accomplishes several goals in a cost-effective way. Credit unions can: 

  • Get an experienced businessperson who can adapt to the organization and come up to speed quickly. 
  • Give business students a tangible operational or strategic project for much less than the cost of a consultant or vendor.
  • Attract top-level talent without the long-term commitment of a new hire. 
  • Garner insights from outside the typical credit union system sources. 
  • Improve midlevel succession planning by building relationships with potential managers.