Why invest in female leaders? Top tips for credit union women to succeed

Ingrid Vanderveldt spends 70% of her time travelling around the world, working with women in their communities to be successful. After a long career as an entrepreneur, she...

Ingrid Vanderveldt spends 70% of her time travelling around the world, working with women in their communities to be successful. After a long career as an entrepreneur, she decided to focus on empowering other women from across the world.

“This is so important because I know the power of what happens to all of us when we have someone that reaches to us and gives us a chance,” she told delegates at the Global Women’s Leadership Forum – the annual event from the World Council’s Global Women’s Leadership Network.

“Why is it important to work with women?,” she added. “Right now, 91% of women do not believe that most organisations understand them. But when women think that a corporation is authentically trying to help them succeed, 79% would try the product or service, 80% secure their loyalty to the brand that helped them and 92% pass that information on.”

In 2014, Ms Vanderveldt received the Forbes & North-western Mutual Global Entrepreneur in Excellence Award and was named one of Fortune’s 55 Most Influential Women to Watch on Twitter. She also sits on the United Nations Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurship Council and is founder and chair of Empowering a Billion Women by 2020.

A successful entrepreneur, throughout her career Ingrid Vanderveldt had to take many risks to see her projects succeed and on two occasions lost everything. It was then when credit unions helped her start all over again.

Speaking to more than 160 female leaders at the Denver conference she recalled her story about how credit union in Austin gave her $20,000, which enabled her to turn everything around. “They gave me that chance to rebuild,” she recalled. Ms Vanderveldt and her husband now work with credit unions and promote the sector.

From 2011-2014 Ms Vanderveldt was the entrepreneur-in-residence for Dell Inc, where she oversaw the entrepreneurial initiatives worldwide helping to build a $250m business segment. She also founded the $125m Dell Innovations Credit Fund, Dell Founders Club and Dell Center for Entrepreneurs during her three-year term.

Ms Vanderveldt believed women could be empowered by gaining access to a mobile device. Through the $250m fund they managed to reach out to 600 million women last year alone.

The work with Dell inspired her to launch another fund, which focused on women developing skills in developing countries. Working with women is important for companies, she said, because they represent an economic opportunity.

Ms Vanderveldt’s movement is called Empowering a Billion Women by 2020 (EBW2020), and she started working on this while at Dell. Through EBW2020 she aims to put a mobile device in the hands of every woman around the globe.

Ms Vanderveldt gave delegates a number of tips on how to make their ideas become reality. Having a mentor mind-set is important, she argued and so is doing the research to back the idea being pitched. She advised women leaders to follow a timeline and look at what is deliverable. The dealmaker midst is equally important, she added, advising women leaders to own their full word.

“Chief executives need to be certain you’re going to make their numbers,” she told them. Another aspect that needs to be taken into account is innovation, she said. “You must have all three mind-sets – mentor, deal-maker and innovator in order to get the ‘Yes’ from chief executives.”

Her top ten tips for credit union women leaders are:

  1. Get your deal maker pitch down
  2. Lock the date on your calendar
  3. Get on LinkedIn and lean on your contacts
  4. Ask for 15 minutes, when thinking about the new partnerships for credit unions, don’t go over, when meeting with somebody that can game change things for you not going over time is really important
  5. Be on time and not go over your allotted time
  6. Get comfortable being uncomfortable
  7. Make sure your ask is clear, what is the one thing you want to walk out with?
  8. Make sure you have your feathers in your back pocket stats, you represent access to massive market growth
  9. Get your clear next steps and review them before you leave
  10. Close, do not spend anymore of your time going into meetings

During the session, the World Council’s Global Women’s Leadership Network presented its Athena Leadership Award to two female leaders. Inspired by the goddess of Greek mythology who stands for strength, courage, and wisdom, this award was presented to those who have made an outstanding contribution to women’s leadership in the international credit union movement.

Lois Kitsch, National Credit Union Foundation national program director, and Marquetta White, Arizona State Credit Union board director, received this year’s award on Saturday evening at the Global Women’s Leadership Networking Reception, sponsored by Mitchell, Stankovic & Associates.

Brian Branch and Sue Mitchell present the 2015 Athena Award to Marquetta White (center), board director of the Arizona State Credit Union, on behalf of the Global Women's Leadership Network at Saturday's Network Reception in Denver.
Brian Branch and Sue Mitchell present the 2015 Athena Award to Marquetta White (center), board director of the Arizona State Credit Union, on behalf of the Global Women’s Leadership Network at Saturday’s Network Reception in Denver.
Brian Branch (left), World Council president and CEO, and Sue Mitchell (right), Global Women's chair, present the 2015 Athena Award to Lois Kitsch (center), national program director of the National Credit Union Foundation.
Brian Branch (left), World Council president and CEO, and Sue Mitchell (right), Global Women’s chair, present the 2015 Athena Award to Lois Kitsch (center), national program director of the National Credit Union Foundation.

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