Bob McKay On Leadership

The CEO of Anheuser-Busch Employees’ Credit Union talks inspiration, role models, and finding opportunities.

The CEO of Anheuser-Busch Employees Credit Union ($1.8B, St. Louis, MO) might have found his way into the credit union industry by accident, but the business results hes achieved by doing the right thing for members and putting organizational mission first has been anything but accidental.

Here, Bob McKay shares what inspires him about the industry, what he thinks makes a great leader, and why all industry leaders should be thinking bigger about the opportunities that lie ahead.


On early days in the industry

I was looking for a new opportunity and came across BCU ($3.2B, Vernon Hills, IL) kind of by accident. I didnt know anything about credit unions back then, but Ive been in financial services my whole career so its hard to imagine doing anything else. My first job at BCU was as director of branches. Over time, I became COO. I spent a total of 20 years there, and it was a great experience.


Anheuser-Busch Employees Credit Union
Data as of 06.30.18

HQ: St. Louis, MO
ROA: 0.98%

I had the opportunity to work for a fantastic guy, Mike Valentine, who was a real believer in taking care of your people. He knew when you take care of your people, they take care of your members. The importance of doing whats right for members and making that a leading part of your business made an impression on me. Its the whole idea behind a mission-driven organization doing the right thing can produce excellent business results.

On leadership style

I have been deeply influenced by the people Ive worked for and with over the years. On an aspirational level, I believe you should help and support your people as much as you lead them. Harry Kraemer, a professor at Northwestern University and former CEO of Baxter International, has been a real inspiration for me. The true sign of a great leader is when people follow you because they want to, not because they have to they believe in where youre going and how youre going to get there.

Bob McKay, CEO, Anheuser-Busch Employees’ Credit Union

On inspiration

I am inspired when I see people do great things. Whether its an individual employee helping a member or seeing a team succeed. The excitement of watching others realize what they are capable of is awesome.

Weve made a lot of changes at ABECU, with a new senior leadership team, a new building, and a planned core conversion. The credit union has made positive progress and achieved business results just by refocusing our work. Its exciting to see that take shape according to our strategic plan. Im inspired by what this organization can be 10 years from now and cant wait to see whats next as we move forward with our planned investments.

On what the industry needs more, or less, of

We should be proud of the collaboration that credit unions have achieved and continue to achieve. However, I always challenge my team and myself to think bigger. How else can we look at opportunities? Instead of worrying about potential problems, lets look at the opportunities by approaching things from a members perspective.

As an industry, I think we tend to get caught up in challenges. For example, my team recently came across an old marketing proposal from 1982 that focused on baby boomers and lamented their lack of loyalty and the credit unions difficulty converting them. It could just as easily have been a current report written about millennials and the challenges credit unions are having today. When you change your focus, youll find there are way more opportunities than problems.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

This article appeared originally in Credit Union Strategy & Performance. Read More Today.

October 29, 2018

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