For True Sky Federal Credit Union of Oklahoma City, “people helping people” has a pretty broad meaning these days.
“We do a lot of things locally, and we started doing a number of things nationally, and we thought this was a great opportunity to do things internationally,” said True Sky CEO Sean Cahill of the opportunity to engage with the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions and the Barbados Co-Operative & Credit Union League Ltd.
He said Mike Reuter, executive director of the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, made the introductions with Zandre Bowen, CEO of the Barbados Workers' Union Co-Operative Credit Union, and Denise Garfield, general manager of the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions.
“We wanted to be a resource,” Cahill said. “Through the World Council we became part of the global bridges program.”
Right off the bat, he discovered that “they were looking at all the things True Sky has done and done well.”
It’s an impressive and progressive list:
“Barbados wants to be a more progressive credit union system,” he said. “They want to digitize their operation, from storing documents to finding new ways to lend digitally. We’re looking to both help them and learn from them.”
He said he has been impressed with the devotion to the credit union movement that he has seen in the Caribbean:
“They perform the purest part of what credit unions are all about – people helping people. I see their incredible passion for their members. I see how they have the same challenges as we do with bank competition and regulatory concerns and how they think through these challenges. We’re learning things every day.”
Cahill has been to Barbados twice. “They’re coming to visit us the week of Oct. 20. for International Credit Union Day. That seems very appropriate. We’re going to go down there some time next March.”
He views the international relationships the credit union is forming in two ways. The new relationships present an opportunity to help credit unions in the Caribbean catch up to their counterparts in the United States. But the relationships also present developmental opportunities for the team at True Sky.
“Alex Michaud, our VP of IT, and a recent CUDE (Credit Union Development Educator) graduate, needed to take on a project for the CUDE program,” Cahill said. “He decided to help credit unions in underdeveloped parts of the world improve their technology.”
He will be helping the Barbados cooperative meet its technology goals.
“Our next focus area will be in Ecuador where they are dealing with a migrant surge from Venezuela,” Cahill said. “This will happen within the next 12-18 months. We will start virtually. Ultimately, we will invite them to Oklahoma City.”
Cahill is enjoying True Sky’s international relationships, as is his team. He is a member of the Cornerstone International Relationship Committee, the CUNA World Affairs Board, and he traveled to Glasgow, Scotland, for the WOCCU Annual Conference.
He is grateful for the support of True Sky’s Board of Directors and for the efforts of Cornerstone League to advance the credit union mission around the world. “Our board is all about community service,” he said. “They are right there next to us serving at our events. And I appreciate their support of our efforts to help advance the international credit union movement.”
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