Q&A with BECU’s Fumbi Chima: One of the Most Powerful Women in Credit Unions

As the year begins, we conclude our three-part series on GoWest credit union leaders who were selected by American Banker magazine as the Most Powerful Women in Credit UnionsThe 25 women around the country were selected because they are “leading the credit union industry through times of rapid and unprecedented change” and demonstrate leadership, teamwork, and personal initiative through their actions.

Previously, we featured Q&A’s offering insight from Dolores Broeske, president and CEO at HAPO Community Credit Union; and Carla Cicero, president and CEO at Numerica CU.

Fumbi Chima, executive vice president and chief technology and transformation officer at BECU, was specifically recognized for her part in an initiative that is transforming the credit union ­– including technology development, corporate culture, and the credit union’s ways of working. Chima came to the credit union industry after leadership roles at Adidas, Fox Network Group, Burberry, Walmart’s Asia business operations, and American Express Global Corporate Technologies.

In a recent interview with GoWest, Chima shared her wisdom and insights on her successes:

American Banker says its list is designed in part to “promote discussion of topics that are important to the advancement of the next generation of leaders.” How would you hope to inspire other women who aspire to leadership positions?
What I’ve learned from other successful leaders and mentors is that you must stay true to yourself, believe in yourself, and not be afraid to share your aspirations and achievements with others. I’ve taken that advice and translated it into ensuring that I am supporting my team, creating opportunities for them to stretch and grow, and sharing their successes. They know I have their back regardless and that’s been fundamental for them to see and believe in themselves.

American Banker is recognizing leaders who keep their credit unions at the forefront of technology development. That’s your area of expertise. Has getting to and staying “at the forefront” been a particular challenge and how have you met it?
Credit unions that are forward-looking are those that have invested in transformation, making the necessary trade-offs to put technology at the heart of their strategies. This investment is essential to serving members in a modern way and allows for creativity and innovation. BECU has begun to pivot in this way. Because of our investments, technology is core to our strategy and an enabler for all that we do.

As we change the ways in which we work and operate, and the choices we make in terms of our investment, change management is core and can be a challenge. Talent is key. We are working to build new skills by creating opportunities for our employees to grow, in addition to recruiting new talent to add to the team. We are taking the steps to move from legacy to a new operating model.

What, in particular, do you feel you are being recognized for with your inclusion in this group?
I’m honored to be recognized as a leader making a difference in our industry, and I’m even more excited this creates an opportunity to highlight the great things that my team is doing. I’m proud of the meaningful impact and change that my team and BECU are making for our members and our communities.

Your professional journey has taken you from many roles in private industry to the credit union world. How would you describe the credit union difference?
Credit unions, like BECU, are purpose-driven and truly want to make a difference for our communities, members and employees. We want to improve the financial health of the communities we serve and that is powerful. We are held accountable by our members, not shareholders, and that enables us to center and focus our work and impact on them.

Posted in Thought Leadership, Top Headlines.