In the Spotlight: Meet Renae Hicks from BHFCU
by Shawn Marie Brummer
Communications & Media Specialist

Renae Hicks was raised as an only child in the city of Box Elder, South Dakota. To this day, her parents still reside in the home where she grew up. She attended school in the Douglas school district near Ellsworth Air Force Base. She was (and still is) a talented vocalist, and was even a member of the All State Choir. 

As a child, she already had an account at Black Hills Federal Credit Union (BHFCU). However, her career there began one Saturday afternoon as she was depositing a check in the drive up. The tellers sent her an employment application through the drive up tube, and said, “You need to work here!”

Starting as a teller, Renae worked for one and a half years learning the BHFCU way of serving members. Next, she was promoted to a Personal Financial Officer, a role she held for six years, where she had the opportunity to build relationships and assist members with their lending and savings needs. When a training position opened up, her interest was piqued, and even though she was afraid she didn’t have the correct skills, she decided to apply.

At one point during the process, her fear took over and she withdrew her application. However, the leader of the training team had seen Renae speak at a department meeting a few weeks prior, and he sought her out, telling her, “Renae, I believe in you, and you can do this.” Little did she know how right he was – and what a perfect fit the training job was for her to utilize her top strengths.

“I am grateful for the experience I have had along the way in serving our members,” stated Hicks. “Members are at the heart of everything we do, and in the Learning & Performance Department, we get to serve them in a different capacity by teaching our new and existing employees the procedures, processes and skills to serve them well,” she added. After nine years in a training role, Renae was selected to lead the team. Now, nearly three more years has passed, and she has truly found her niche.

In her role, Renae oversees all training and development for BHFCU. Leading a team of six Learning & Performance Specialists, they all work together to equip BHFCU’s large staff to best serve the members. “My main priorities are developing my team and ensuring we take care of the learning needs for employees in our organization,” she explained. “Our mission to improve lives resonates with me. I have a love for people and believe we can make a positive impact in the work we do every day,” she added.

Renae led the creation of BHFCU’s World Class Service model for their employees, in addition to a coaching model that integrates the teachings into actionable behavior. “This coaching model is enhancing the way our employees serve members and improving the member experience. It has also aligned managers and employees on the behaviors that lead to success in their positions,” she explained.

In addition, she had a large part in preparing the organization for a core conversion, by establishing expectations with her team and the assigned subject matter experts to ensure all employees were properly prepared to serve members immediately once the conversion was completed. 

Her work has earned her some accolades, not just inside of her credit union, but on a national level as well. Recently, Renae was named one of Credit Union Magazine’s CU Rock Stars. “What a surprise and honor this was,” she remarked. In addition, she was a member of the team that won the CUNA Training Professional of the Year Award in 2012.

She is very grateful for the people in the industry who have guided her career path. “I have had some pretty amazing leaders at BHFCU over my 19 years of employment, as well as peers who have set a wonderful example displaying what it means to serve. Credit Union employees are simply the best!” she exclaimed.

One person who made a significant impact on her life was Rick Preble. Rick was the previous Learning & Performance Manager at BHFCU and now serves as CEO at RVA Financial, a credit union in Virginia. “He lives the credit union mission, and his laser focus on placing members at the front of every decision was inspiring,” she recalled. “He taught me to see how every role at BHFCU affects our members, and how every decision should be evaluated based on the impact it will have on our members. We always consider if a decision will take us closer to our mission, or further away. Rick also taught me the value of investing in people, and he is a shining example of a leader worth following,” she concluded.

In order to best perform her job, Renae has been ATD certified, with a Master Certification in Performance Consulting and a Trainer Certificate. The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations all around the world.

She also graduated from Leadership Rapid City in 2015. For the past five years, she has served on the Board of the Day of Excellence organization, providing a day of leadership and inspirational training to attendees from across the region. Plus, she helped develop the Storybook Symphony, which was a fundraising project for her Leadership Rapid City Class to bring a new attraction to Storybook Island, a local park and landmark.

In her personal life, Renae is the proud mother of an 11-year-old son, Carson. In her free time, she likes to cozy up on the couch with a good book and a cup of coffee. She also enjoys spending time with family and friends, especially when there are board games involved!


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