Carmen Sylvester, 2020 New England Women in Banking Winner

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Carmen Sylvester

President and CEO
Southern Mass Credit Union

Carmen joined Southern Mass Credit Union (SMCU) as President and CEO in August of 2017. Carmen’s first several months were spent learning about SMCU’s financials, people, members, culture, and the community. Carmen quickly realized that SMCU was a diamond in the rough in an area that had great potential for growth. When Carmen joined SMCU there was not a formal organizational chart and she knew the Credit Union would need a strong management team to take SMCU to the next level. Over several months, she hired a team of six knowledgeable, experienced banking professionals to lead the Credit Union in Lending, Accounting, Human Resources, Marketing, Operations, and Information Technology. This team was put together to ensure outstanding service for members and support the local community.

Carmen and the management team quickly established a mission of ensuring the staff knew that the Credit Union’s greatest asset was its members and worked on developing a culture of friendly service and diversified lending products. Carmen knew keeping the staff engaged and informed was going to be a key component for the success of the Credit Union. She developed a culture of transparency with the changes being implemented. She started incorporating bi-annual staff meetings where the Credit Union’s financials were presented to all team members and presentations by management to discuss plans and upcoming projects. It is important to Carmen to communicate with the entire staff and for the employees to be able to ask questions and offer insight on their thoughts on the decisions. This has led to a greater understanding by the staff on the Credit Union’s goals, the reasons for changes being implemented, and a culture where the staff feels included in the future of SMCU.

When Carmen joined SMCU in August 2017, assets were $205 million, and the year ended with assets at $210 million and lending originations at $35 million. With the diversification of the loan portfolio and the addition of the management team in 2018, assets grew by 6% to $222 million and lending originations grew by 97% to $67 million. During 2018 and 2019, additional changes were implemented within lending and deposit product offerings, and operational efficiencies were realized through streamlining several processes across the Credit Union. 2019 ended with $251 million in assets, a 13% growth, and lending originations grew by 35% to $91 million. As of June 2020, assets were $281 million which is a 37% growth in 3 years.

The growth and changes the Credit Union has experienced during Carmen’s leadership demonstrate her strong financial background, her ability to build a culture inspiring confidence and knowledge with the staff and recognizing the importance of communications with members and employees. Carmen continues to lead the Credit Union with a strategic vision to differentiate SMCU. Carmen encourages all employees to be involved as she fosters an environment of moving forward together so all can be proud of their accomplishments as a team.

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