Employees say Marilyn Sperling is committed to maintaining Greylock Federal Credit Union’s culture, which includes putting a high priority on staff satisfaction.
“The focus is on the happiness of the employees,” said Jodi Rathbun-Briggs, the Pittsfield-based organization’s vice president of business banking and Sperling’s nominator for a Women of FIRE Award. “She truly believes that happy employees make for happy members, which make good bottom lines for us.”
Sperling was named CEO in 2010 after her predecessor resigned following an investigation into two misdemeanor criminal convictions he received five years earlier. She said her immediate priority was managing the reputation of the organization.
“It’s a small community, the previous CEO’s departure was very public and we needed to make sure the business community was on our side,” she said. “We’ve been embedded in this community for so long, and they came to our support during the transition.”
Shortly after Sperling became CEO, the credit union launched a print and radio campaign called “I Am Greylock,” which spotlighted employees’ achievements.
Sperling also looked at internal practices, bringing in outside coaches and conducting surveys of employees’ concerns and job satisfaction.
“Their biggest concern was, ‘Is Greylock going to change?’ Even though we have 240 people, it’s a very family-oriented credit union and we invest a lot of time and money in training and building that culture,” she said.
The coaching program also helped integrate new members of the executive team who had worked at banks but didn’t have experience in a credit union environment, she said.
Rising Through The Ranks
Sperling started out at Greylock as a teller and rose into management, becoming the credit union’s first female senior vice president in 2003. Having worked her way up through the ranks, Sperling shows special sensitivity to the needs of female employees, Rathbun-Briggs said.
“She knows how difficult it is to be head of the group and have all men underneath,” she said.
Sperling acknowledged the importance of supporting female employees but said she’s disappointed she hasn’t made more progress. Currently, Greylock has five female vice presidents, but none at the executive vice president tier. Recruiting candidates might be more difficult because employees are required to relocate within, or into, Berkshire County, which could be a barrier to those whose spouses have careers elsewhere, Sperling said.
“In my mind right now, we do not have enough women in the senior leadership role,” she said.
She encourages communication and makes herself accessible to Greylock’s employees by hosting monthly group birthday parties.
“If I take care of the employees, they will take care of our members,” she said.
Outside the office, Sperling’s community involvement includes serving on numerous boards including Berkshire Health Systems, the Berkshire Business Roundtable and the Pittsfield Boys & Girls Club. She also serves on the board of directors of the Massachusetts Credit Union League.