The CUInsight Experience podcast: Joan Opp – Remove speed bumps (#140)

“Everyone should be focused on a digital experience.” - Joan Opp

Thank you for tuning in to episode 140 of The CUInsight Experience podcast with your host, Randy Smith, co-founder of This episode is brought to you by Elan Credit Card. Elan partners with more than 250 credit unions to provide an outsourced credit card program, and offers merchant and mortgage services for credit union members and business owners.

My guest on today’s show is Joan Opp, President & CEO of Stanford Federal Credit Union. Joan started her career as a CPA, and gradually started working in the credit union industry. After years in this space, Joan is leading her team through the rapid changes happening in technology and member expectations. In this episode we chat about the future of the movement, including the one thing that all credit unions should be thinking about. She shares her thoughts on digital transformation and simplifying processes to attract members and better compete with fintechs in the market. 

During our conversation, we discuss how credit unions can take traditional services and remove the “speed bumps” disrupting the member experience. Joan expresses the power of networking and the value it brings amongst the many opportunities in the industry. She also shares key characteristics that are critical when building a leadership team and how she gives feedback. 

Joan offers team management insights from her time in leadership positions and as a CEO. She shares her thoughts on competing for talent; not between other credit unions in the industry, but competing with organizations in Silicon Valley. Joan emphasizes the value of the credit union mission and how it resonates with those who fit this financial space. Joan and I chat about getting past the, “This is how we’ve always done things,” mentality and discuss tips for showing people a fresh perspective to move the organization forward. Tune in to hear Joan discuss digital transformation, diversification, and team expectations. 

As we wrap up the show, listen in while Joan shares which books she likes reading lately, why  “Work hard. Play hard.” describes her approach to life, and which political figure she thinks is a successful person. Enjoy my conversation with Joan Opp!

Subscribe on: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher 

Books mentioned on The CUInsight Experience podcast: Book List 

How to find Joan:
Joan Opp, President & CEO of Stanford Federal Credit Union
Joan: LinkedIn
Stanford FCU: LinkedIn | Instagram | Facebook | TikTok | Twitter 

Show notes from this episode:
A big shout-out to our friends at Elan Credit Card, an amazing sponsor of The CUInsight Experience podcast. Thank you!
Want to hear more from Joan? Click here.
Place mentioned: California
Shout-out: CLA (CliftonLarsonAllen)
Place mentioned: Tucson, AZ
Historical context: 9/11 (September 11th)
Historical context: Enron Scandal
Place mentioned: Texas
Place mentioned: Silicon Valley
Shout-out: Venmo
Shout-out: LendingTree
Shout-out: Happy Money
Shout-out: Wells Fargo
Shout-out: Chase Bank
Shout-out: CUNA
Shout-out: CUES
Shout-out: NAFCU
Shout-out: Google
Shout-out: Salesforce
Shout-out: Amazon
Shout-out: Joan’s children
Shout-out: Joan’s husband
Book mentioned: Verity by Colleen Hoover
Book mentioned: My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
Book mentioned: Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, Al Switzler, Ron McMillan
Shout-out: Condoleezza Rice

In This Episode:
[00:43] – Joan Opp started her career as a CPA, but gradually found herself working more and more within the credit union space.
[03:19] – Members expect a digital experience that matches the current times.
[05:05] – The point of digital experiences is to make services easy to use.  
[07:27] – Joan encourages her team to be interactive and have an open mind.
[08:59] – Credit unions have a unique community of strong networks and collaboration.
[10:27] – Don’t miss an opportunity to network.
[13:06] – What are the top traits Joan seeks in potential team members?
[15:59] – Joan gives her take on feedback. How does she balance being direct and mindful?
[18:11] – What happens if someone cannot improve after feedback?
[19:58] – Joan gives advice about keeping the right people on the team to get things done.
[21:34] – You need to have self-awareness.
[24:20] – Joan talks about making the board room a safe room. 
[27:04] – Hire people who are comfortable with tech.
[29:24] – How can teams break past the “This is how we’ve always done things” mentality?
[31:16] – Joan explains how observing from a fresh perspective finds new solutions.
[32:55] – Joan lives by “Work hard. Play hard.” 
[35:41] – What books does Joan recommend?
[37:25] – “Let’s see what we can accomplish together.”

Randall Smith

Randall Smith

Randall Smith is the co-founder of, the host of The CUInsight Experience podcast, and a bit of a wanderlust. As one of the co-founders of CUInsight he looks ... Web: Details