The CUInsight Experience podcast: Jon Hernandez – Moving forward (#124)

“Let’s give everybody an opportunity.” - Jon Hernandez

Thank you for tuning in to episode 124 of The CUInsight Experience podcast with your host, Randy Smith, co-founder of This episode is brought to you by CUES. CUES is the leading talent development solutions provider to the credit union industry. CUES is happy to announce the return of its popular online certification programs from Cornell University. Get access to Ivy-League executive education without leaving your office. Learn more at

My guest on today’s show is Jon Hernandez, President & CEO at CalCom, Mattel, Nikkei, and Mabuhay credit unions. In this episode, we discuss ideas around collaboration, strategy execution, complementary niche markets, and developing professional talent and teams. Originally, a teenage Jon set his eyes on being a stockbroker, but he entered the credit union space after he met a chairman of a credit union. Now, Jon is leading multiple credit union teams while taking care of communities that have unique service needs.

Identifying and retaining good talent is a skill on its own. Jon is known by his peers for developing great talent within his teams that become strong contributors to the credit union space as a whole. In this episode, he explains his professional development style, and what he pays attention to when interacting with new talent. Much of his approach relies on a gut feeling, but challenging people and responding to their development as an individual are also an important part of the process.

Jon believes credit unions can truly move forward if their teams don’t get distracted by what’s impossible. In our discussion, Jon takes time to share the details of a special credit union project. Jon explains why focus groups played a crucial role in his work segmenting membership type. By helping board members understand how their actions benefit the communities they represent, everyone has an opportunity to receive the best credit union services. Enjoy my conversation with Jon Hernandez!

Subscribe on: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher 

Books mentioned on The CUInsight Experience podcast: Book List 

How to find Jon:
Jon Hernandez, President & CEO at CalCom, Mattel, Nikkei & Mabuhay CUs 
LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram 

Show notes from this episode:
A big shout-out to our friends at CUES, an amazing sponsor of The CUInsight Experience podcast. Thank you!
Check out the popular CUES online certification programs from Cornell University here.
Check out all that Jon and his team are doing at CalCom, Mattel, Nikkei, and Mabuhay Credit Unions here.
Place mentioned: San Francisco, CA (South Bay Area)
Shout-out: REACH Conference  
Shout-out: Jill Nowacki
Shout-out: CUES
Place mentioned: Raleigh, NC
Place mentioned: California
Shout-out: Chrysler
Shout-out: Kmart
Shout-out: Walmart
Shout-out: Target
Shout-out: Apple, Inc
Shout-out: Amazon
Shout-out: Toyota Camry 
Place mentioned: Gardena, CA
Place mentioned: Carson, CA
Shout-out: Jon’s dad
Shout-out: Western CUNA Management School (WCMS)
Shout-out: California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues 
Shout-out: TikTok
Shout-out: Diana Dykstra
Artist mentioned: Tears for Fears 
Artist mentioned: Depeche Mode
Artist mentioned: Echo & the Bunnymen 
Artist mentioned: The Cure
Album mentioned: The Hurting by Tears for Fears
Shout-out: Jon’s brothers and sister
Shout-out: Toyota
Check out this article featuring Jon.
Previous guests mentioned in this episode: Jill Nowacki (episodes 4, 18, 37, 64, 82, 101, & 113), Diana Dykstra

In This Episode:
[02:14] – Jon Hernandez discusses how he uses his gut feeling and early-career lessons to pick out great talent for his teams.
[04:18] – Maintain and retain talent by acknowledging their unique paths as individuals.
[06:32] – Is there a certain time that leaders should get to know their team members?
[08:54] – Jon focuses on making a difference, and highlighting members in the local communities.
[11:11] – Competition in the industry seems tough. Jon uses data to show that credit unions are not actually in competition with each other.
[13:43] – Listen to Jon talk about the strategy of targeting specific local communities, which helps his teams stand out in the industry.
[15:57] – Jon breaks down the numbers for targeting local communities through Nikkei and Mabuhay as two specialities under one brand.
[18:23] – How much did the method of emphasizing membership audience type pay off?
[21:10] – Jon explains why focus groups played a crucial role in validating and communicating the idea of emphasizing membership audience type.
[23:55] – Jon says that he doesn’t overthink who he connects with so that he doesn’t limit himself.
[26:48] – How can credit unions stay relevant?
[28:23] – Jon encourages credit unions to involve their board in the training budget.
[29:31] – Help board members understand how their actions benefit the communities they are representing.
[30:09] – What was Jon’s first CEO role? How did he handle not knowing what to do?
[31:59] – Jon recalls this funny line that was said to him during his first credit union conference after taking on his first CEO role.
[33:46] – Jon mentions a networking mantra he tells his team, and explains his Screen Door policy.
[36:10] – Listen to Jon talk about implementing a social media task force.
[37:54] – Jon shares memorable trouble from his high school years, including the grand theft auto story of his brother’s car.
[40:51] – These are the 80s music artists Jon remembers, and still enjoys today.
[42:43] – Jon’s dad changed his perspective of success and troubles.
[45:38] – Let’s try to help each other out, and keep moving on with what we’re doing for our members.

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