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An Interview With Janice Welch, President/CEO of Kimberly Clark Credit Union

What was your first job overall and what was your first credit union job? How did you get brought into the industry?

Janice Welch, President/CEO of Kimberly Clark Credit Union
Janice Welch, President/CEO of Kimberly Clark Credit Union

My first job was at Union Planters National Bank as a safe deposit clerk. I worked 10:00 until 2:30 and till 6:00 on Fridays. I later went full time as a teller. I knew then I wanted to work with the public. My first credit union job was at Kimberly Clark Credit Union where I am now. I started November 5th, 1984. I thought I wanted to work at Memphis City Employees Credit Union because it would be fun to wait on fireman and police. I called Jerry Broxterman, the President at that time and he told me he didn’t have any openings, but his wife Sara at Kimberly Clark Credit Union did. Sara interviewed me over the phone and hired me sight unseen. She was a wonderful person to work for and her door was always open. I learned so much from her.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received early in your career?

“The dread is worse than the do”. I’ve found if you dig in and get something done without stressing over it, you will feel better in the long run.

Did you ever have a moment when everything just clicked and you felt like what you were doing was what you were meant to do? Or did you feel you were meant to do something else?

I feel I was always destined for this career. I did major in elementary education in college and some days it feels like I’m a Kindergarten teacher, but when that light bulb goes off and our members are happy and they tell me what a difference we have made in their life, it makes it all worth it.

Can you give an inspirational story for how your credit union helped a member when a bank wouldn’t?

We had a long time member who got into trouble with some bank credit cards. He was using them to help his mom who had cancer. He missed one payment and the bank increased his rate to 32%. He called us and was going to turn his car in because he couldn’t pay for it. We told him to call the bank and talk to them about lowering his rate. We instructed him on what to say and he called and pleaded his case, and the bank lowered his rate to 4.75%.

Then we were able to refinance his car and evidentially paid off his credit cards. He is still singing our praises and that was over 10 years ago. I get letters and notes all the time thanking us and complementing our staff on their exceptional member service and their caring ways. Our staff ROCKS!

What’s the one thing that, when a young professional that reads this, you want them to take away?

Have passion in what you do. Listen with an open mind to your member’s stories. There is a wealth of information in the spoken and unspoken word. Treat people with respect and dignity first and foremost and that’s how loyalty and trust is built. Get involved in the credit union movement, whether it’s at the Chapter level or networking with your peers. Read as much as you can about the industry.

How do credit unions reinvent themselves and stay relevant to a younger demographic when faced with so much competition from banks & other non traditional forms of banking?

The latest technology is key. Consider the cost factor as an investment in the credit unions future.

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