Deirdre Thompson, senior vice president of virtual service delivery at Redwood Credit Union in Santa Rosa, is the recipient of the 2021 Women in Business Awards from the North Bay Business Journal.
Professional experience: Over 20 years of strategic and operational leadership with a passion for service. Equipped with a unique blend of multi-generational and multi-channel skills.
Ability to deliver significantly happier and more loyal members, customers and team members, as well as sustainable growth.
Education: Bachelor of Arts, English, University of California, Berkeley. Western CUNA Management School, Pomona
Tell us about yourself and your business: Redwood Credit Union is a trusted local community credit union founded in 1950, and as a financial cooperative, it focuses on people, not profits. RCU’s values align with mine of growth, service and thriving communities.
I’m late in the credit union movement, having only been a part of it for ten years – having spent a lot of time in corporate banking – but this role offers me the connection between heart and mind. which is so important.
Is there a major achievement over the past year that you would like to share?
A major achievement has been how our team members have responded to the pandemic and been there for our members in ways we never expected.
We are passionate about service, so this part is not surprising, but what was surprising was how our team members demonstrated adaptability and selflessness. They were truly there for our members, even when they faced their own personal challenges.
What achievement are you most proud of?
To be there for our members with real solutions in the most difficult times.
What is your biggest challenge today?
Building on what we have created in a way that elevates and strengthens our culture and fulfills our mission, vision and values. The world has fundamentally changed, and not working differently is not an option.
Words that best describe you: Curious, optimistic, determined and resilient.
Personally, which of the adjustments you have had to make in your family life and career have been the most difficult?
Keep clear boundaries and be okay with disagreeing, then do something about it. Being intentional is an effort in itself, so I practice.
What about the women you work with or know outside of the workplace? What adjustments did they have to make?
Basically, reserving some of the grace that they gladly bestows on others for themselves when their plans (big and small) go wrong and celebrating the victories.
Finally on COVID, what changes in your routine or approach to your work that you have made in the wake of the pandemic will remain in place, whether at work or in your outlook on your life at home?
I changed my way of communicating with people virtually and I was more attentive to phone calls and meetings. Every chat doesn’t require a meeting, and creating virtual fun is an important skill that we must maintain.
As a successful professional, what were the biggest obstacles you encountered and how did you overcome them?
The biggest obstacles were the preconceptions about my character and my abilities. Overcome them with a strong support system, network and just do it while staying true to myself.
How do you think your profession will evolve over the next five years?
Humanized and organized technology will become more and more integrated into our lives. I expect it to be inclusive, multilingual and empowering. In short, it must do good.
Who was your most important mentor? And tell us a bit about this person.
There were a few: Hilda Costa, Marti Levada, and Ed Hawthorne. All were intrepid, creative and curious problem solvers who got things done by empowering their teams and engaging diverse groups with a common goal.
What advice would you give to a young woman entering your profession or the world of work today?
Know your worth, evolve, learn and build a strong support system.
Most Admired Businessman Outside Your Organization: Stacy Abrams
Typical day at the office: Meetings, collaboration, reviewing data for models / what’s new / changed, strategic work, preparing for the next day.
Best place to work outside your office: My backyard
Current reading: “Breath, the new science of a lost art” by James Nestor and the 1619 project by Nikole Hannah-Jones
Most want to meet: Mary Ellen Pleasant
Social networks you use the most: Twitter – I have a short attention span.
Anti stress : The outdoors, deep breathing and quality time with the people I love.
Favourite hobbies : Read, travel, dance
What would parents or loved ones say if asked to brag about you?
My parents would say they are proud of who I have become, and my husband would say that I love with all my heart.