The CUInsight Experience podcast: Monica Belz – Taking the torch (#42)

“Everything we see was created by someone.” - Monica Belz

Welcome to episode 42 of The CUInsight Experience podcast. Hosted by Randy Smith, co-founder of Today Randy is talking with Monica Belz, President and CEO of Kauai Government Employees FCU.

In essence, credit unions are social enterprises with social missions. Monica discusses what this means and gives us examples of how this impacts how she runs her credit union on Kauai. Monica believes that we can truly forge sustainable, relevant change and it’s in the DNA of credit unions.

Monica speaks to us about how important credit unions are, that the torch isn’t being passed to the new leaders of today they are already holding it. She believes that social enterprise is the way for credit unions to stay relevant and that credit unions teaming with local governments and the private sector can move community development to the next level both at home and abroad.

Monica has excellent insights into being a mom to three kids, volunteering with nonprofit organizations, and keeping the work-life balance in check. She has seen and done things most of us only dream about, so you don’t want to miss this conversation. Enjoy!

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How to find Monica:
Monica Belz, President and CEO of Kauai Government Employees FCU
Linkedin | Twitter | Facebook 

Show notes from this episode:
Check out all the amazing work Monica and her team are doing at Kauai Government Employees FCU
Documentary mentioned: Free Solo
From our friends at CUNA: CU Difference – Monica Belz of Kauai Government Employees FCU
CU Management: Leadership in Action with Monica Belz, CUDE
CUNA News: Disaster no match for CEO
Monica’s alma mater: Thunderbird School of Global Management
Shout-out: Mel Chiba and Tess Shimabukuro
Shout-out: Gather Federal Credit Union
Shout-out: WOCCU and WYCUP
YouTube: World Council 2019 Puerto Rico Engagement Visit
Shout-out: Inclusiv
Shout-out: Credit Union Development Education – Are you a DE? You should be.
Shout-out: The entrepreneurship development program “Incubadora Ahora” – an initiative of the Cooperativa Sagrada Familia in Puerto Rico.
Shout-out: Linda Bodie
Shout-out: Jill Nowacki
Shout-out: Lauren Culp
Book mentioned: Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell
What is White Nights of St. Petersburg where Monica got in some trouble? Find out here.
Podcasts mentioned: The CUInsight Experience, CUNA Podcast, Freakonomics
Album mentioned: Dear Mama by 2Pac
Album mentioned: Lose Yourself by Eminem
Shout-out: HCUL and their annual conference
Book mentioned: Leading for Growth by Ray Davis
Shout-out: Mark Weber from Strum
Previous guests mentioned in this episode: Jill Nowacki (episodes 4, 18 & 37), Linda Bodie, Lauren Culp, Mark Weber
You can find all past episodes of The CUInsight Experience here

In This Episode:
[01:38] – Aloha Monica, welcome to the show!
[02:24] – Andy and Monica discuss their kindred wanderlust spirits.
[02:49] – Monica tells us that she is going to go on a five-day rock climbing trip for her 40th birthday.
[04:10] – She speaks to us about her love of the outdoors, her need to learn as much as possible.
[05:22] – She earned her real estate license right out of high school, following in her maternal family’s footsteps.
[06:08] – Monica chats about her life after college and traveling the world as a divemaster.
[08:01] – Her travels lead her to snowboard in many places as she trained for the Olympics.
[09:43] – She learned to surf in El Salvador in a little fishing village, she now owns land there.
[10:41] – She ended up in Kauai to raise her kids while she continued her education and launched her business.
[12:50] – Her heart is in international development, and she volunteers for many nonprofit programs.
[13:59] – Monica found a listing for an executive position with a credit union on Craigslist.
[14:13] – She got the job she applied for and learned what credit unions were all about.
[16:06] – How do you find that the World Credit Union Conference field engagements benefit union in Kauai? Can you share an example?
[20:15] – She talks about credit unions being social enterprises with social missions.
[22:15] – Is getting back to social enterprise the way that credit unions can stay relevant?
[26:31] – They discuss a conference that will be in Puerto Rico in May about developing communities.
[27:38] – What inspired you to go for the position of President and CEO of the Kauai Government Employees Credit Union?
[30:56] – Monica feels like her leadership style is continually evolving, but she couldn’t do any of it without the fantastic team she has.
[33:13] – She says the greatest strength of her team is diversity by a considerable measure.
[35:52] – She always says, ‘go team go’ is the one thing she says all the time that her team can still finish for her.
[36:22] – What mistakes do you see young leaders make over and over again?
[38:55] – ‘Wherever you are, be all there’ is a piece of advice she considers over and over.
[39:22] – What does your work-life balance look like? What do you do when you have a free day?
[40:55] – The first time she got into memorable trouble was in Russia, and she was almost kidnapped.
[42:19] – What is your morning routine?
[42:58] – Favorite album of all time?
[44:03] – What book to you gift all of the time?
[44:55] – Her time has become more valuable, and everything else is less important.
[45:24] – When you hear the word success who comes to mind?
[46:45] – Final asks or thoughts from the listeners?

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