The bachelor of arts degree in political science Robin McKenzie received from Chico State University plus two years of course work in mass communications at U.C. Davis launched her on what might be an expected career trajectory — working in mergers and acquisitions, an advertising agency, a political campaign coordinator and even for the Federal Communications Commission.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR COMPANY
PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: I’ve worked in credit union marketing for over 26 years — 22 with Redwood Credit Union. RCU had $160 million in assets when I started. Today it has $3 billion in assets and serves more than 260,000 people. I oversee marketing, public relations, communications and social media. I developed the community and business development departments and have overseen strategic planning, human resources, training and was RCU’s lobbyist for seven years.
It’s been fun to wear a lot of hats and contribute to an organization I’m passionate about. Prior to credit unions, I worked for a mergers & acquisition company, as a market research director for a cooperative advertising company, as a political campaign coordinator in San Francisco and for the A.M. Radio Branch of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Washington, D.C.
EDUCATION: mass communications, U.C. Davis, two years, major phased out; B.A., political science (prelaw emphasis, paralegal certification), California State University, Chico. Minors in business and communications.
STAFF: 12 (directly reporting)
I’m honored to have spent a big portion of my career at Redwood Credit Union — an organization I believe in, and one that lives our mission of passionately serving the best interests of our Members, employees and community.
I’m grateful for my family and a rewarding career. My husband and I have three wonderful children and a great extended family and friends. I work hard, and love what I do. I enjoy tackling a strategic initiative, goal, project or issue and collaborating with people to achieve excellent results.
I learn and grow each day, and I’m fortunate to work with talented and special people who make work exciting and fun.
MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT IN THE PAST YEAR OR SO
I led RCU’s strategic brand project that yielded strong results and I believe will contribute to the growth and strength of RCU into the future. Another recent accomplishment was RCU’s Lake County fire relief efforts. Thanks to the generous donation of over 12,000, we raised $2.5 million in 12 weeks for the victims of the Lake County fires. It was an honor to work on this important effort, and inspiring to see so many give generously to our neighbors in need.
WHAT IS THE ACHIEVEMENT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
My family is my greatest joy and source of pride, but professionally, I believe RCU helps people succeed in their lives, and I’m most proud to contribute to an organization that helps people in a real and meaningful way—helping them get into a home or car, save for their child’s education or gain financial relief, so they can achieve their dreams and have peace of mind. We help people succeed—and I love that.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE TODAY?
The speed of change and rapid advances in technology—while beneficial in many ways—has made it challenging to break through the noise and clutter to reach people with relevant, personal and right-time messages that are meaningful to them. We work hard to stay abreast of the changes, develop skills needed to harness new technologies and be efficient. Challenging, but exciting, too!
WORDS THAT BEST DESCRIBE YOU: grateful, family-oriented, hard working, committed, results-driven, talkative and warm.
AS A SUCCESSFUL FEMALE PROFESSIONAL, WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST OBSTACLES YOU FACED AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
I’m fortunate to have a lot of support, so my obstacles are shared by many: Remaining successful amidst changing market conditions and competition, hiring and retaining top talent, innovating, choosing the right priorities, staying efficient. Surrounding myself with smart, talented and loyal professionals who care and believe in our shared vision and are willing to work to take us to the next level has been key to RCU’s and my success.
HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR PROFESSION WILL CHANGE IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?
People do more banking through their phones and online—so it will continue to go more mobile and digital. They also want to feel connected, to be treated in a personal, relevant way, and we all want simplicity, too. The challenge will be to harness technology while also delivering a personal, simplified experience.
WHO WAS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MENTOR?
I’m fortunate to have many positively influences in my life and career. My parents played key roles—they encouraged me to follow my dreams, get a good education, do my best and work hard—my Dad often said “put your head down and work like H-E-double hockey sticks!” My best friend (since age 8) Annie Jackman has also been a huge inspiration. We traveled Europe together and influenced each other’s lives. She’s a respected professional, a loving and devoted mother and an extraordinary, loyal friend.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG WOMAN ENTERING YOUR PROFESSION OR THE WORK WORLD TODAY?
Believe in yourself. Stay curious — read, grow, learn, evolve. Take risks; great leaders always do. Serve others, your organization, your community. Be a problem-solver, pack a great attitude each day and contribute to a positive, productive work environment and team.
Collaborate with others and respect their contributions. Recognize and be accountable for your mistakes — apologize and learn from them. Do your personal best each day. Have a personal and professional vision for yourself and pursue it. You’re in the driver’s seat of your own life — so drive!
ADMIRED BUSINESSPERSON OUTSIDE YOUR ORGANIZATION: So many I respect and admire — a few professional women who come to mind: Annie Jackman, Janet Condron, Bonnie Burrell, Cynthia Murray, Cindy Butner, Condoleezza Rice.
TYPICAL DAY AT THE OFFICE: Daily huddle with staff, meetings, email and communicating with others, working on brand and marketing strategies, interfacing with staff, overseeing press releases or interviews. I remind myself to ruthlessly prioritize and reprioritize so I stay focused on getting the most important things done. I love engaging with my staff and accomplishing great work together.
BEST PLACE TO WORK OUTSIDE OF YOUR OFFICE: My couch with my iPad — after I’ve had my first cup of coffee and read several newspapers/sources.
CURRENT READING: “Encouraging the Heart” by Couzes & Posner.
MOST WANT TO MEET: Michelle Obama.
SOCIAL MEDIA YOU MOST USE: Facebook and LinkedIn (love Pinterest too).
STRESS-RELIEVERS: Exercise — especially hiking in the North Bay. Laughing and spending time with my family.
FAVORITE HOBBIES: Spending time with family & friends, being active and outdoors, listening to good music (especially my son Andrew’s), watching my kids play sports, traveling, gardening, cooking, entertaining, reading and sailing.