By Gretchen Mayes – A familiar face to many students around campus is WJC alum Mr. Brad Douglas. Brad has been helping out Jewell students by teaching them how to create better LinkedIn pages and other online tips to get the job they have always dreamed of. However, what many fail to realize is the story behind the knowledge and wisdom that guides his many Biz Time talks.
Brad fell into his position as Heartland Credit Union Association President & CEO somewhat by chance. In 2006 he was asked to interview for a position on the Board of Directors for Community America Credit Union, a $2.3 billion financial intuition. Credit unions differ from regular banks in that they are owned by the people who bank there. Brad said, “I enjoy serving on boards of organizations I believe in and feel I can add value.”
He did not fully understand what he was getting involved in but thought he would try it for a year to gain some good experience. That year turned into a passion when he found that, “I enjoyed the responsibility, really believed in the organization, and then fell in love with the industry.”
Brad found that passion for the credit unions and the people they represent. Later, Brad served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for four years. During his time on the board he became aware of an opportunity forming that would combine Missouri and Kansas Credit Unions into one association that would serve over 200 credit unions. His passion and skillset in the credit union field set him up to have the ability to make a large difference in the lives of the credit union member-owners. In January of 2016, the association was officially formed as Heartland Credit Union Association (HCUA) where Brad applied for and was awarded the position of President/CEO. Brad says, “Today, I have an incredibly rewarding role where I get to work every day with wonderful people and feel I’m making a difference in helping people.”
Brad did not receive his job without a lot of hard work and knowledge of his field. He says that there are a lot of skills needed within his job field.
- You have to have a deep understanding of how to build meaningful relationships with people at all levels
- Experience in managing a large staff with several offices spread out across two states
- Business Development experience
- A deep understanding of and experience with lobbying at the state and Federal levels
- Leadership skills
- Management skills for developing high-performing future leaders
- Willingness to travel
- Legal skills (Mr. Douglas is also an attorney)
- Skills in identifying and developing new business models
These are skills that many Jewell students already have that Brad specifically tries to harness and point out during his informative talks on campus.
One thing that I asked Brad about was if he could do his undergraduate degree over again what classes would he take. He said that he was a Piano Performance major with a double major in Communication. As many students can attest, holding a double major is tough enough. However, Brad pointed out that he would have taken more business, economics and political science classes that would have assisted in his field.
So how can a student reach the potential that Brad has achieved or what does a successful businessman like Brad look for in a new hire? He had many good things to say about Jewell students, “I keep my eyes open for Jewell students because I believe Jewell does a tremendous job of teaching its students to think and solve problems across a wide spectrum – it’s part of the liberal arts training.” He also looks for creative and self-motivated people who are eager to solve problems and eager to learn.