Strategize Today To Ensure Smooth Successions Tomorrow

The impending retirement of Truity Credit Union’s CEO prompted the cooperative to prepare for other C-suite departures.


Truity Credit Union
Data as of 03.31.17

HQ: Bartlesville, OK
ASSETS: $796.8M
MEMBERS: 68,073
ROA: 0.31%

In 2018, Kelley Diven will begin his second decade as the chief executive officer of Truity Credit Union ($796.8M, Bartlesville, OK). The year also will mark the end of his employment with the cooperative.

I will have been CEO for 20 years, and I’ve always said that’s long enough, Diven says. It’s a pretty long shelf life in this position.

Although his planned departure is months away, it has raised questions for Truity’s board of directors regarding the credit union’s readiness to replace other C-suite positions.

What happens if one of those people aren’t here tomorrow? Diven asks. Do we have a plan?

In this Q&A, Diven talks about his impending retirement, C-suite succession planning, and the importance of routine discussion across the organization about filling leadership roles.

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Why did you choose 2018 to retire?

Kelly Diven: Twenty years with one leader is quite a long time, and the rate of change in our business is fast. Plus, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do on things my wife and I haven’t done since I’ve started working. I’m looking forward to doing some traveling and some other things.

Truity is now looking at its succession plan for the entire C-suite. Why?

Kelly Diven, CEO, Truity Credit Union

KD: We’ve always believed strongly in employee training and development. But my leaving prompted the board to question whether we have someone ready to fill our other C-suite positions, and if we don’t, what are we doing about it?

We are not a large financial institution we have approximately 200 employees. It’s not easy to always have an employee ready to step into one of our seven senior-level positions. We must be prepared with a process to fill a vacant position quickly.

How did you identify what you’re looking for in a leader?

KD: The head of HR and training and our board rated a laundry list of attributes and skills. From there, we created a list of attributes we need hires to have, attributes that are desirable but not necessary, and attributes that people don’t think are important. We’ll use those to come to a consensus on what a new CEO or other C-suite employee should look like.

What are the attributes highly valued of the next CEO, specifically?

KD: The key ones the board identified are trust, integrity, transparency, and honesty. Behavioral traits are valued more highly than experience though I would say our board does value financial experience.


Cultural fit is also important. We’re an organization that has stressed internal culture for quite some time and have worked hard to develop an employee-friendly and transparent culture. One of the reasons we started this succession process two years early is because the board felt it was important we solidify our culture moving forward and hire someone who will be able to fit successfully into that culture.

If what I’m known for is developing good people for other organizations, so be it.

Kelly Diven, CEO, Truity Credit Union

What are some of the attributes for other C-suite roles that differ from the CEO?

KD: The technical attributes are different, but every position on our senior team needs a certain amount of aggressiveness and vision. They need to focus on the things that, in the next couple of years, are going to take the credit union where it needs to go.

What’s your timeline for naming a successor? How involved will you be?

KD: Our board of directors would like to have the person identified sometime in summer or early fall of 2017. They are considering internal candidates right now and by the end of the year will know if they need to go outside of the organization.

We haven’t decided the exact timeframe, but I will still be involved for some time. Not too long, however, because the last thing I need to do is interfere with my successor. They will be talented and prepared to take over.

How will you make sure Truity is properly prepared for future successions?

KD: Our new routine will include a regular and deliberate review of senior level positions and how we develop our people to not only take on more responsibility but also take on top leadership roles within the organization.

We might not have a position ready for them, but I don’t think we should worry about having too many talented people that are ready to move up. I had someone tell me, If we develop too many people, then they’re just going to leave.’ But if what I’m known for is developing good people for other organizations, so be it. I can be proud of that.


August 11, 2017

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