From 1991 to 1998, Sherry Gray was vice president and then senior vice president of operations for Union Planters Bank of Northeast Arkansas of Jonesboro. She joined Northeast Arkansas Federal Credit Union of Blytheville in 2005. She’s been CEO since 2012. The $173.9 million credit union has 45 employees across five branches.
Gray earned a Bachelor of Science in marketing in 1982 from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. She graduated cum laude in 1993 from the Paul W. Barret Jr. School of Banking in Memphis.
In June, a Forbes survey of 25,000 credit union members named Success Credit Union the best credit union in Arkansas. “It was a nice honor that reflects well on our board of directors who are all volunteers,” Gray said.
What role do credit unions play in the current economy?
The effects of the pandemic on the economy highlight the role credit unions have historically played in providing consumers with affordable financial services, especially the underserved. Even without the pandemic, many struggle to maintain their financial well-being. Founded on the principle of “members helping members,” credit unions provide a community where consumers trust us to assist in their financial wellness through education and support. Credit unions provide solutions such as lower rates on loans, higher rates on deposits and financial education programs. Being member owned allows Success to provide these benefits for our membership.
What was behind the 2019 rebranding of the credit union, changing its name from Northeast Arkansas Federal Credit Union?
While the credit union is steeped in its northeast Arkansas heritage, we recognized the need to establish a more modern, streamlined logo and name to better match our corporate philosophy and outlook. Moving forward from an area-based naming convention reflects our posture toward serving all members regardless of their physical location. Our credit union staff and volunteer board of directors have always taken personal responsibility in helping our members succeed. It reflects the one thing all credit union members and employees have in common: success.
How is Success managing new technology in the industry?
Success continually evaluates new technology and products in terms of what will provide the biggest positive impact to our overall membership. We must be excellent stewards and will not chase the newest offerings, but instead conscientiously weigh the benefit of new technology for all our members. Protecting private information and maintaining secure methods of communication is at the forefront of any new technology decision we make.
Did the pandemic change member needs?
While member needs have not actually changed, the challenges they face in meeting those needs have evolved. We strive to maintain the channels of communication, both through digital services and human interaction, to understand the changing circumstances for each individual member. Continuing uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and the economy contribute to member anxiety and stress. They look to us to provide stable, individualized advice that places them on the best financial path to obtaining their goals.
What attracted you to credit unions?
I believe in a servant-style leadership, which reflects the credit union philosophy. It is significant to me to make local decisions in the communities where our members live and work. Credit unions celebrate and support female professional growth and leadership. I couldn’t imagine a career where the success of employees and customers is not top priority.