BC Young Leaders go to Italy

Tanya Mueller and Amber Motz are two passionate credit union employees who, through the credit union BC Young Leaders Network, were eligible to apply for the Credit Union Foundation of BC’s bursary to attend BCIT’s Cooperative Field School in Italy last July.  They have illustrated their passion for the cooperative system, and for supporting their fellow credit union young leaders. They are proven relationship builders and were selected to attend this field school based on their ability to clearly outline how they planned to translate their learnings from Italy into their day to day work in the BC credit union system. Tanya, Amber and a group of BC and Alberta credit union CEOs visited 10 cooperative organizations in Northern Italy and attended lectures on the Italian cooperative model and framework.

 Watch the video here

Tanya Mueller, Central 1 Credit Union, Project Specialist (left)

Amber Motz, Aldergrove Credit Union, Assistant Branch Manager (right)

Years in the system: Tanya 4 , Amber 8

Why did you apply for this bursary?

T: With strong passions for travel and the cooperative system, the Italy Field School opportunity seemed like the perfect fit for me to learn and grow.  Because the cost of the program would have been prohibitive to me registering on my own, I was delighted to hear that the Foundation could be awarding a 50% sponsorship to BC credit union young leaders and couldn’t turn down the opportunity to apply.

A: I knew that this trip would allow me to contribute to a cause and movement that was greater than my position and the Aldergrove Credit Union. Attending the field school would broaden my knowledge of the cooperative movement, support my leadership growth and help me give back to the system that has already given me so much.

 What did it mean for you to receive this bursary?

T: Ultimately, this bursary enabled me to take part in this amazing experience!  Not only was I able to learn about the cooperative system in Italy and how it translates to the cooperative model in Canada, but I was able to connect with and learn from CEOs from my own BC credit union system.  Since the field school, I have been able to leverage this information to provide context and new ideas to my colleagues, management and peers.  This opportunity has broadened my perspectives and made me more inquisitive about other organizations’ experiences/ideas of cooperation.

A: Receiving this bursary made the trip possible!  The trip allowed me to make connections within the Canadian credit union system which are providing new opportunities for growth and development and opening doors for me today.

What value/importance did you get from the Field School?

T: Being able to attend this field school gave me the opportunity to better understand the history, purpose and importance of cooperative values and how they have been utilized to drive community engagement.  I learned so much about the successes and learnings that other cooperative organizations have had, and have been able to translate these practices into my own life and into the work that I do with Canadian credit unions every day.

A: As a member of a branch team, I am not often exposed to or learn about the broader Canadian credit union system, nor do I get to see the amount of collaboration happening at our executive level. Being able to study the Italian cooperative system and compare it with ours helped me to understand it at a higher level and prepare me for positions I hope to hold in the future. Being able to learn from 6 inspiring and highly influential CEO’s for a week was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.

What was a key take away that you can use in the BC credit union system?

T:  That there is no quick fix. Cooperative values are so deeply ingrained in Italian culture, and in order to understand their systems and processes, you really need to appreciate the journey.  In Western society, we tend to lose sight of the “why?” I find that being able to step back and respect why we cooperate/collaborate and why institutions like credit unions, the BC Co-Operative Association and the Credit Union Foundation exist, helps to level-set and influence the way we do business and interact with our peers.  I cannot express enough thanks to the Credit Union Foundation of BC for this incredible opportunity.  It truly is an experience that I will remember and leverage forever.

A: That cooperation and collaboration is vital!  Businesses within the Veneto region of Italy truly believe that they will only survive if they work together. This is not a concept widely recognized and accepted in North America. Our Canadian system needs to build a stronger culture around the cooperative principles and bring awareness to cooperatives in Canada.


Are you a credit union employee, under the age of 40 and looking for free leadership development opportunities?  If so, visit bcyoungleaders.com to learn more or register today!