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  • Writer's pictureW.B. King

Global Women’s Leadership Network Awards Four Scholarships for Upcoming World Credit Union Conference

By W.B. King


When Michelle Carrera, senior consultant with the Indiana Credit Union League, was notified that she earned a free ride to the World Credit Union Conference (WCUC) from the Global Women’s Leadership Network (GWLN), she did a double take.


“I remember re-reading the congratulatory email multiple times,” she told Finopotamus. Carrera, who grew up and studied in Guatemala, added: “I immediately contacted my mother in Guatemala to share the fantastic news.”


Carrera is among four women whose applications won a scholarship to the WCUC, which takes place at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center from July 21 to 24. Carrera, representing the United States, will be joined by Gugu Vilakati (Eswatini), Grace Akinyi Ogolla Watsiera (Kenya) and Raquel Mascariña (Philippines).


“The application process involved responding to a series of highly detailed and thorough questions about the credit union movement, diversity, and the pivotal role of women within these areas. I recall completing the application within a relatively brief timeframe, since I felt as if the questions resonated deeply with my experience as a Guatemalan American credit union professional,” she continued. “Particularly the emphasis of the impactful contributions of women that have historically shaped  and will continue to influence - the success of the global credit union movement.”


Michelle Carrera

GWLN Director Lena Giakoumopoulos explained that the four scholars will receive complimentary registration to the WCUC conference in Boston, which is co-hosted by World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and America’s Credit Unions, as well as travel, hotel accommodation and a daily stipend. Since 2009, GWLN has awarded more than 100 scholarships to women from over 30 countries.


“We’re very excited to be able to continue our tradition of annual scholarships this year with the support of our industry partners and membership base. These four scholars were selected from a record number of 86 applicants from 23 countries on six continents where GWLN is present,” said Giakoumopoulos. “There were a large number of well qualified individuals, and it was a challenge to select these four women who will build their skillsets, help grow our program and engage with more women for a greater impact throughout the global credit union system.”


A Well-Rounded Credit Union Professional


In her position at the Indiana Credit Union League, Carrera works with affiliated credit unions whose asset sizes span from $700 million to $5 billion.


“I travel across the state to assist credit unions in navigating regulatory compliance, refining operations, and addressing strategic planning requirements,” she told Finopotamus. “I also deliver specialized training both in person and virtually. I am also a speaker at credit union chapter meetings, where I cover regulatory topics and global trends in the credit union industry.”


Founded in 1925, the Indianapolis-based league represents Indiana credit unions and serves more than 2.8 million members.


“One of the most rewarding elements of my role is the unpredictability of each day. Beyond my scheduled meetings and ongoing projects, I regularly get questions from credit unions covering enterprise risk management, human resources, collections, lending, regulatory compliance, and more,” she noted. “I truly look forward to learning from each question because I know that it makes me a more well-rounded credit union professional.”


Lena Giakoumopoulos

As opposed to other financial institutions, “Credit unions are rooted in a cooperative model, fostering collaboration from the individual level to credit unions working collectively for the well-being of their members and the communities they serve,” Carrera offered.


Along with the “people helping people” credit union ethos, she noted that the motto “stronger together” also clearly resonates with this cooperative movement.


“Other financial institutions are typically for-profit entities owned by shareholders seeking dividends,” she noted. “This ownership structure directly influences how these entities interact with both their customers and each other.”


Global Sisterhood


When Finopotamus asked Carrera how she views GWLN’s role in the credit union space, she said the organization’s primary goal is inspiring and connecting women from around the world to better themselves, while enriching the communities in which they work and live.


“Its mission is to foster collaboration, enabling women to harness their collective power by supporting one another, sharing challenges and celebrating achievements,” she shared. “These principles align with my personal ethos, which centers on the belief that women should support and uplift one another.”



As a first-time attendee to WCUC, Carrera said she plans is to learn as much as possible by connecting with women from diverse backgrounds.

 

“I’m looking forward to bringing a broader global outlook back to Indiana’s credit unions, connecting and sharing resources,” she said. “My goal is to offer a unique perspective rooted in the global business landscape, but customized to fit our credit unions’ context.”


The four scholarships winners will also have an opportunity to meet and share experiences from respective credit unions. Activities they will attend include the Global Women’s Leadership Network Reception and Leading through Networks: A GWLN and World Council Young Credit Union Professionals Joint Forum.


“It’s going to be amazing to hear their stories, see the incredible things credit unions are up to in their countries, and, most importantly, continue this global sisterhood where we can all empower each other,” she said.

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