Joan Moran On Leadership

The CEO of DOLFCU talks about thinking differently, working collaboratively, and taking chances.

Joan M. Moran wasn’t looking for a job, and didn’t know what a credit union was, when a neighbor referred her to a position at U.S. Customs FCU in April of 1995. But she was intrigued. Now, more than 20 years later, Moran is CEO of Department of Labor Federal Credit Union ($88.8M, Washington, DC), a title she’s held since 1999.

Joan M. Moran, CEO, DOLFCU

Moran started her career as a CPA later than most. She graduated with a degree in accounting at 40 and has worked as an internal auditor, a legislative auditor, and a chief financial officer for a small retail firm in DC. Her professional experience have taught her people work hard for the things they really care about. For Moran, that includes cooperative financial services.

Here, Moran talks about big picture leadership, collaboration, and the survival of small credit unions.

On Her Leadership Style

I don’t want to micromanage, and that has served me well. It helps me spot issues quicker, if they arise. You can’t be looking ahead at the bigger picture if you have your nose in every detail.

On Hiring New Employees

I look for employees who are broad-minded and genuinely excited about new opportunities. If someone is excited to try something new and different, that says a lot to me.

On Working With Leaders Who Think Differently

I like people who think differently from me. I’ve served on several CUSO boards, and the fun part of serving on boards is you come in with your own ideas and get to hear others with completely different viewpoints.


Data as of 12.31.16

HQ: Washington, DC
ASSETS: $88.8M
MEMBERS: 7,340
ROA: 0.80%

I’m not afraid to speak my mind. I believe in putting it out on the table. That opens the door for others to chime in, and people appreciate that.

On Finding Inspiration

I like to kayak and stay active. When I’m kayaking, I’m completely alone and can clear my head. I also love working out and often find something new pops into my head during or after a workout that I wouldn’t have thought about otherwise.

I love to read. I read the Wall Street Journal every day at lunch, and I enjoy different leadership books, especially those that have nothing to do with financial institutions.

On Professional Accomplishments

Our greatest accomplishment at Department of Labor FCU is the collaboration the credit union is doing through the rkGoBig CUSO. We’re working with five other similarly sized credit unions and finding a way for smaller credit unions to grow without breaking the bank or merging.

Creating rkGoBig was a big leap for me and the board of directors. We changed everything we did, which impacts morale, financials, everything. It’s going well for us. My advice to other credit unions is to keep doing your homework, but, every now and then, take a risk.

Keep doing your homework, but, every now and then, you have to take a risk.

Joan M. Moran, CEO, DOLFCU

On Advice From Other Leaders

Someone once told me when you get somewhere a new position or a new organization you can’t keep pointing the finger. No matter the situation, you have to own it and move on.

On Teaching Moments

I was complaining years ago that my work wanted me to get a smartphone, and my 80-year-old Dad said never let technology pass you by. This was something he learned toward the end of his career as computers were coming out and he kept wanting to do things the old-fashioned way. That’s always stuck with me.

On What The Industry Needs More And Less Of

I would like to see fewer mergers of good-sized credit unions. I can understand some of the smaller ones needing to merge for financial reasons, but it’s disappointing to see a well-run, good-sized credit union merging. Instead, I would like to see more collaboration. Not just talk; actual work. As credit union leaders, we can’t be so afraid of change. Collaboration can break down when individuals are afraid their job might be different or don’t want to give up control, but the benefits outweigh the inherent risks. We need to be open to learning what we can do that will ultimately be better for members and staff, even if it doesn’t fit today’s model. It’s worth the effort and the risk.

April 24, 2017

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