Sarah McCallion Managing Editor firstname.lastname@example.org | Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2014 7:15 pm @TBLNSarahMac
Founded in 1943, nonprofit Tulsa Federal Credit Union has had the primary purpose of giving back to
members. The credit union is mutually held by each of their 60,000 members- each with the ability to
run or vote for the board.
“As a nonprofit, we try to pour more money back into our members’ pockets in terms of higher
dividends on our savings accounts and lower rates on our loans,” said Tulsa FCU President and CEO
Greg Gallant. “For example, last year we started an interest savings program where we track how much
interest we save our members when they come to refinance their debt from somewhere else.
“Since last year we’ve saved our members a little over $5 million. We see stories like a single mother
who ran up a lot of credit card debt, she was really getting buried under the cost of that. We were able
to work with her to put together a consolidation loan; over the life of all her loans we were able to
save her about $32,000 and lower her monthly payment by about $250. For most of us that’s
significant. It’s really special when you can make that type of impact on someone’s life.”
Gallant said it is situations like those that brought Gallant to the industry 35 years ago and to Tulsa
FCU three and a half years ago.
Gallant first started in the industry with a part-time job at a credit union in Ohio. He said when at his
first credit union, some of the older employees would tell him he could make an incredible difference
in people’s lives by working in a credit union, but he wouldn’t make a lot of money.
“When you’re 20 you question that,” Gallant told TB&LN. “Most 20-year-olds want to make a mark
on the world and make a lot of money, that’s their objective.”
Gallant decided the credit union was where he wanted to be, and he stayed at that first job for 10 years.
Over time, he worked his way through different positions in the industry across different states before
joining Tulsa FCU. Gallant was working at a very large credit union in Dallas when he decided he was
ready for a CEO role.
“This came open and it was a really great opportunity,” he said. Since coming on at Tulsa FCU, Gallant
has worked to improve and grow the business.
“I don’t really approach change in a revolutionary way, I think it has to be incremental change,” Gallant
said. “I call it evolutionary change, it’s cleaner and easier to manage.”
In Tulsa FCU’s history, Gallant is only the third CEO so he recognized the credit union held a lot of
personality from the previous CEOs.
“We have been undergoing a significant cultural change here,” Gallant continued. “Not only
operational, but culturally. We are trying to live by a set of core values within the organization. I
believe in transparency in the credit union and I try to strive for that.
“It doesn’t matter what role employees have here, I want them to understand where we’re going, what’s
in the future and where we’ve been.”
As part of the initiative to update Tulsa FCU’s culture, Gallant got together with about 20 employees
from throughout the credit union to decide on the credit union’s core values, mission and a vision
statement. The process took about eight weeks.
“It is really something that the employees have ownership in and I really manage the credit union
based on the four core values: trust, integrity, teamwork and making a difference,” said Gallant.
“These values existed here, but now it’s more ingrained in the culture.”
“That last value means making a difference in the community, making a difference in co-workers lives
and making a difference in members’ lives,” he added.
Gallant has upheld this last value and increased the organization’s involvement in the Tulsa
community. Tulsa FCU is a Tulsa Area United Way Trailblazer and is the primary sponsor of the Tulsa
Federal Credit Union Tulsa Run, which is powered by the Tulsa Sports Commission.
“Before I got here the credit union wasn’t very civically involved, other than some limited
involvement with United Way,” said Gallant. “Within two years we were named one of thirteen
trailblazers for the United Way campaign because in 2012 we had such successful fundraising here in
the credit union.”
Gallant thought it was also important to become a primary sponsor for a local event and the Tulsa Run
became an option.
“It’s not often there’s an event that brings 10,000 people together and have 80 percent of those be
from the Tulsa area and also has a very charitable benefit,” said Gallant.
“That’s one of the things I really stress with employees: we’ll provide corporate opportunities for
them to get involved, but if they choose not to be involved, that’s okay, but I encourage them to find
someway to give back,” he continued. “Giving back is really important for individuals personally and
to help their perspective.”
You mentioned it was a difficult decision when you were younger whether to purse a career in
the credit union industry, how did you make your decision?
Ultimately it was probably my parents, my upbringing. My parents had always taught my sister and me
to take care of today and tomorrow will take care of itself. In other words, as long as you bring your
best to the table, good things come from that and it’s not always about the money.
In your career you’ve lived in seven different states, how does Oklahoma and Tulsa stack up?
My family and I really enjoy it. We found the people who live here to be really friendly and open and
welcoming. We’ve the things we look for in a city, the cultural opportunities, the Performing Arts
Center and the BOK Center are an incredible draw for the city. The commute is also a lot better than
any city I’ve ever lived in.
Not answering Tulsa, where has been your favorite place to live?
I would say it’s probably been two places. They’re very dissimilar. We lived in Hartford, Connecticut
and it is absolutely beautiful in the fall and the spring. The other city would be Dallas. It was actually
too big for us in a lot of respects, but the big city feel and the availability of basically anything you
could want were great.
What community organization have you been most passionate about?
The parent-child center of Tulsa will pull on your heartstrings. When you’re making a difference in a
child’s life who has had a rough time, teaching parents how to be parents that’s a life-long impact. You
take pride and comfort in knowing you’re making a difference.
What is your favorite part about this job?
My favorite part is when I have a young employee ask to visit with me about how I got to where I am
and how they can get there. I never would have considered I would be in that position where I would
have someone ask me for advice.