MSUFCU’s Maxim: Channelling an entrepreneurial spirit
Chief Digital Strategy & Innovation Officer
An increasing rarity in modern times, Michigan State University Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU) Chief Digital Strategy & Innovation Officer, Benjamin Maxim, has been at the credit union for his entire career.
After graduating with a telecommunication information studies and media degree from Michigan State University – following a change from computer science – Maxim’s dream was to be at the heart of the Web 2.0 tide.
“Amazon, Facebook, Twitter – this was the space everyone was looking to get into. It was the future. And for me, it was like an entrepreneurial ecosystem, people establishing new innovations for the web, and back then, there wasn’t a degree for entrepreneurship.”
Admitting a dream role then would’ve been to work at a leading web 2.0 organisation, Maxim joined MSUFCU as a stopgap, before figuring out the next step in his career.
However, it was at MSUFCU that Maxim realised he could channel his spirit of entrepreneurship, more so than in any boxed role at a large tech company like Amazon or Facebook.
Helping develop proprietary innovations at the credit union, fostering partnerships with fintechs and streamlining the customer experience – Maxim has channelled his entrepreneurship into helping MSUFCU grow.
Keeping up this mindset throughout the 16 years Maxim has been at the credit union, he attributes this state of mind to his curiosity.
“I’m a curious person. I try to promote this curiosity in others I work with. I’m persistent, too. I like to keep trying things until I and my team figure out whatever issues there are. If things aren’t working one way, let’s try it another way, then another way.”
“For me, it’s about not giving up, and impressing upon the team that while innovation can be hard, it can change people’s worlds, and it’s important to be persistent to find the right answers.”
Although sometimes impatient to let innovations come about naturally, Maxim recognises the value of having everyone on board. So, while speed may be of importance at certain times, for Maxim, it’s more important to have the team all working off the same page.
The scope to innovate and channel a sense of entrepreneurship is something Maxim attributes to his self-professed mentor, MSUFCU President/CEO April Clobes, who gave him “the opportunity to figure things out independently, and the freedom to try new things.”
Owing his career to Clobes, Maxim cites advice given to him by his CEO as something that has stuck with him throughout his career: “We’re not doing brain surgery. Anything that goes wrong, we can fix it. Just be honest about it.”
For Maxim, this advice was freeing and made him feel a part of a shared innovative spirit at the heart of the MSUFCU.
“This really taught me that you’re supposed to break things, you’re supposed to fail and learn from it. As long as you’re honest about your failings, everyone is ok. Nothing we do is going to destroy the world, failing isn’t killing anyone.
“I’m just glad I got this advice early on in my career, it really helped me free myself and gave me a free innovative and entrepreneurial spirit that I’ve taken with me throughout my career at MSUFCU.”
Read the full story HERE.
You can only be successful and impactful on innovation when it’s linked to the mission and strategy of your organisation.