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Bay Federal’s leadership program introduces a new way to support workplace culture during a pandemic

For Bay Federal Credit Union, education is a cornerstone of a successful workplace. Supporting their employees through continuous learning is crucial to the ongoing success of the Credit Union.

Since the spring of 2014, Bay Federal has partnered with Cabrillo College’s Supervisory Academy Program to create a unique leadership program for up-and-coming supervisors and managers called BayFed University (or “BayFedU”). Utilizing Cabrillo College’s 12-week program, students of BayFedU learn the skills needed to become a successful supervisor and leader.

BayFedU Class 9's graduates.
BayFedU Class 9’s graduates.
(Bay Federal Credit Union)

Partnering with Cabrillo allows the employees to interact and learn alongside maturing leaders in the community. Each graduating class designs, plans, and implements a project that contributes significantly to the Credit Union’s business initiatives and also celebrates the culture of Bay Federal.

Initially, BayFedU Class 10’s experience attending the Supervisory Academy program was no different than the previous nine classes, as they completed their curriculum in December 2019.

However, a couple of months later, the world changed.

Their strategic project was going to be based on mentorship and in-person training. Once the shelter-in-place order began in March 2020, they knew that their initial idea for the project needed to be significantly altered.

“When we got our initial project off the ground, we quickly realized that our world had changed so much that the idea wasn’t feasible at this time,” said Angela Harden, Bay Federal’s Facilities Assistant Manager and Class 10 graduate.

With so many employees working remotely, we knew we needed to put our heads together and come up with a new idea.

— Angela Harden

The class went back to the drawing board and decided to develop a new idea that would contribute to the new “hybrid” workplace environment that so many organizations are adapting to.

With in-person trainings restricted, organizations now have to rely on virtual events and online courses. Using this new precedent, the class developed an idea to enhance Bay Federal’s culture with a library of instructional videos to supplement their documented processes. This new program, called “BayFed Productions,” allows for idea submissions from Bay Federal employees.

BayFedU Class 10 recently presented the BayFed Productions idea at their virtual all staff meeting at the beginning of May 2021, and got a tremendous reception.

Carrie Birkhofer, President and CEO of Bay Federal
(Bay Federal Credit Union)

“I am so proud of BayFedU Class 10, and the way they rose to the occasion and navigated a course through uncharted waters,” said Carrie Birkhofer, President and CEO of Bay Federal.

“The excitement from their project idea has made waves through the organization, and I can’t wait to see how this new program will continue to help us provide the best internal and external member service possible.”

Once the project idea is presented to staff, there is a graduation ceremony honoring the accomplishments of the BayFedU class. If this had been a normal BayFedU class timeline, they would have graduated in April 2020. However, the project idea reaction, and how they were able to collaborate together and create a new and relevant program was a source of pride for BayFedU Class 10 during their graduation ceremony, held at Bay Federal’s Capitola branch on May 11, 2021.

Neal Engelhaupt, Senior Technology Service Desk Specialist and Class 10 graduate, proudly hung up his framed completion certificate and smiled.

“A year and a half in the making,” he said.

Meet the six graduates from BayFed University Class 10:

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    BayFed U is one example of the investment that Bay Federal Credit Union makes in employee education and development. The impact on employees is evident, as Bay Federal regularly makes the list of “Best Places to Work in the Bay Area” and was named the “Best Credit Union to Work For” by the Credit Union Journal in 2019. Both honors are based on the results of employee surveys.

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