I’ve been CEO at Kindred Credit Union for just over 100 days now. This is my first CEO role and my first time living in Ontario—Kitchener-Waterloo to be exact. Prior to making the move, I had a good job, a comfortable home and my family enjoyed being surrounded by a vibrant community of family and friends.
So why did I make the move? Quite simply, it was an opportunity to follow my passions for leadership, join an organization with an outstanding value proposition and expand our horizons as a family!
Looking back on my first 100 days, I wanted to share some of my reflections with the LinkedIn community. While not an exhaustive list, definitely a few highlights.
I hope my experience can help those of you who are contemplating a similar change and, perhaps, prompt input from those who have gone before me.
- Know your ‘Why’. A former colleague often asked his staff when they were looking for a change, “Are you running from something or running towards something?” There is a difference and it does matter. In my case, I was definitely the later. There will be challenges, bumps, and surprises in any transition, and moving across the country only amplifies these. However, joining a principled and purpose-driven organization, and moving to one of Canada’s fastest growing and innovative cities, provided me with the resolve, motivation, and fuel to work through the obstacles with confidence in my decision.
- The Power of a Network. I’ve worked in the credit union system for ten years, yet I was new to Ontario. Many of my friends and colleagues provided virtual introductions to their network in the K-W area, allowing me to get connected and involved in the local community. Many thanks to those who took the time to reach out on my behalf; it made a big difference.
- It’s all about People. That’s not to say that systems, processes, and business fundamentals are not important. I’ve found that building relationships early allowed me to better assess the value and history of these systems, and better positioned me to challenge the status quo. After meeting every Kindred staff member, I was able to see Kindred’s strategy and purpose from their perspective, and understand how they viewed their role in bringing this to life.
- I have an Amazing Wife. I could not have done this—or even gotten here—without Sherrilyn. During my transition, she has been there to talk, listen, laugh, challenge, push, and manage. She helped me stay focussed and connected, and she kept things running! I sometimes take that for granted and this experience has reminded me of the importance of continually nurturing our relationship. I love you, Sherrilyn.
- Ask Questions. While I received advice from some trusted colleagues, I did not know exactly what to expect as a new CEO. At times I felt that people were interested in my thoughts or perspectives, however, I found I learned the most when I was listening instead of talking. Asking questions, even if I thought I understood, taught me more about the organization, its history, culture, and people than I could have learned by simply reading strategy papers and past presentations. #HalGregersen #QuestionsAreTheAnswer.
- Build in Breaks. My wife and I decided that I would move on my own initially, so that our kids could finish the school year. Planning vacations and trips home when starting a new role may not seem intuitive or convenient, however, I found it was just the opposite. Knowing I had designated family time set aside allowed me to stay focussed on the job. Each time I return more energized and, I suspect, a bit easier to deal with!
- Faith. Amidst all this change, a huge learning curve, and distance from familiarity and family, I found comfort, courage, and conviction that there is a plan for me, which is greater than my own imaginings (Jeremiah 29:11). This knowledge drives an attitude of gratitude, a posture of humility, and joy.
Many thanks to my Board, community partners, the Kindred Senior Leadership Team and staff for making reinforcing my decision to join this amazing organization. It has been a great 100 days and I look forward to many more!