In the Spotlight: Meet Nicole Mikkelsen from Capital CU
by Shawn Marie Brummer
Communications & Media Specialist

Nicole Mikkelsen grew up in the city of Bismarck, North Dakota, along with three brothers. She was always a bit of a tomboy, but still her brothers and her father were rather protective of her – and at times, she said it felt like she had four dads. Her parents opened an account for her at Community Credit Union in Bismarck when she was just three years old. That credit union eventually merged into Capital Credit Union, and Nicole still has the same account to this day!

She attended Bismarck High School, where she was very active in cheerleading. She was a two-time All American cheerleader, as well as a member of the North Dakota All Stars cheer team. She was also a stand-out student who was active in student council, graduating as a valedictorian in her class of more than 400 students in 1998.

Her parents were her first role models, and they taught Nicole and her brothers that nothing gets handed to you, rather, you have to work hard for what you want. They were all expected to buy their own cars if they wanted to drive, as well as purchasing their own insurance, gas, and oil changes and repairs. “It was our responsibility if we wanted to drive, and I think it helped us to better appreciate what we had, because it was ours and we had earned it,” she shared.

While still in high school, she began working as a cashier at Dan’s Supermarket. Eventually she was promoted to Customer Service Leader, and continued to work there as she started college at the University of Mary in Bismarck. Once again a stand-out student, she graduated summa cum laude in 2002, receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in management, along with minors in business communications and public relations. In addition, she graduated from UMary’s Harold Schafer Emerging Leaders Program.

Besides studying and working her way through college, she was also an instructor for the National Cheerleader’s Association (NCA). For three summers, she traveled around the Midwest teaching cheerleading camps. In addition, she took on a job as the cheerleading coach at Simle Middle School.

She was familiar with Capital Credit Union as an account holder, and from working at Dan’s, as they had a branch office located within the grocery store. She thought it may be a good place to gain some experience as she continued to study business administration. She applied and was hired, and started working there in January of 2001 as a part-time teller. Almost immediately, she took on an internship with the Capital Credit Union management team, and after graduating from college, she accepted a position as a full-time teller. Within a few months, she was promoted to Branch Manager at the Mandan location, a position she held for several years, before accepting a new role as Human Resources Coordinator in 2005. In 2011, she was promoted to Human Resources Manager, and in 2016, she was named Vice President of Human Resources.

Professionally, she credits Deb Gallagher, former CEO of CCU, as being an inspiration and a mentor in her career. “She gave me a lot of opportunities and challenged me to grow out of my comfort zone,” she stated. “She firmly believed you never stop learning, encouraged me to look for ways to learn more about all areas of the organization and industry, and to think bigger than just my role and where we are today. She was also a great example of a strong female leader that made her way from the bottom up – from teller to CEO – which is inspiring for so many of us,” she added.

In her role at Capital CU, Nicole supports all human resources and learning and development functions of the credit union. On the HR side, this includes everything from salary and benefits administration, recruiting and onboarding, employee relations, HR related compliance, writing HR policy, HR related contracts and budgets, and workforce planning. On the learning and development side, it includes employee education programs, training functions, leadership training, and organizational development. As a member of the Senior Management team, she also works to support the overall strategic direction and planning for the organization by working on various projects, committees and teams throughout the organization, including the Employee Involvement Team and Wellness Committee.

One project that Nicole is particularly proud of was the development of Capital Credit Union’s leadership program, CU Lead. She, along with Deb Gallagher, spent extensive time building the program that started as a one-year leadership development plan for front line supervisors and officially created the learning and development function within the credit union. Now in its fifth year, CU Lead has grown into a robust three-year program complete with a capstone project and presentation for each participant. The program has also been expanded to allow staff that are not yet in leadership roles to apply to participate, and she enjoys watching her coworkers grow professionally as they advance through the program.

Nicole has dedicated herself to the industry, and now has more than 18 years of experience under her belt. “I enjoy the credit union philosophy of People Helping People,” she says. “I like that our mission is to serve the members’ best interests rather than making a profit for stockholders or shareholders. I also appreciate the comradery with other credit union professionals. It is nice that we can reach out to one another to share ideas and resources,” she concluded.

Besides acting as a leader at her credit union, Nicole has been involved with many other organizations as well. She has served on the board for Southwest TrainND, and is their current President. She is a current member and past board member for the Central Dakota Human Resources Association (CDHRA), and holds certifications as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM SCP). In 2014, she was named the CUAD Emerging Leader of the Year, and was selected as a “20 under 40” to watch award by the Bismarck Tribune in 2017. She has also taught Junior Achievement for the past three years, and is a member of the North Dakota Association for Talent Development.

In her personal life, Nicole has been married to her husband, Mason, for 15 years. They have been friends since middle school, but they didn’t start dating until their senior year of college. The couple has four very active sons: Cooper (12), Carter (10), Cameron (7), and Colton (4). Once again, it seems she is quite outnumbered by boys!

When she is not working, Nicole enjoys spending time with family, camping, volleyball, yoga, golf, and cheering on the Vikings and the Twins. It’s practically a full-time job acting as chauffeur for all of the kids’ activities, including various sports teams, Boy Scouts, Strolling Strings, Lego robotics, religion classes, the list goes on and on. At one time, Nicole thought she may want to be a teacher, and had even started a major in education. Now, with her four children as well as her role at the credit union that includes learning and development, it seems she has come full circle, in a sense. Still, she sometimes thinks, it sure would be nice to have those summers off…



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