Synergent’s mission is to ‘help credit unions succeed and improve the financial lives of their members.’ In our monthly Employee Spotlight series, we feature one of our dedicated staff members to help you get to know the people who are working as an extension of your credit union team.
With just over one year within the credit union industry, Conference & Events Manager Jordan Inkley has already developed a deep love for the individuals behind ‘People Helping People’. She enjoys all the ways she interacts with and supports them through growth and change.
“A typical day in my role consists of planning for and around our future and upcoming events and trainings,” explained Inkley. “I work with local hotels, venues, speakers, caterers, etc., to make future events a reality. I monitor our current events and trainings and their registrations and help to see those through to fruition. At this time of the year, the main focus turns to planning for the League’s 2024 Convention at the Holiday Inn by the Bay.”
Prior to her role serving both the Maine Credit Union League and Synergent, Inkley was working at a restaurant in Newport, Rhode Island, as the assistant to the Director of Sales and Events. When the Director took parental leave in early 2022, Inkley took over all of the in-house and offsite events at one of their restaurant locations. She realized “that is when [she] really fell in love with planning and managing events.”
“Working in a restaurant and planning bridal showers, weddings, rehearsal dinners, and everything in between is very different than planning for conferences and events for credit unions,” said Inkley. “This is my first time working for credit unions, but the mission and values that everyone shares with ‘People Helping People’ makes it very special. I love planning and seeing a successful event come to life, especially when it benefits our credit unions.”
As the Conference & Events Manager, she determines which events and trainings will be available to credit unions throughout the year. Her main goal when planning is to help credit union staff further their own knowledge and education to better help and serve their members. Inkley’s position is essential to the coordination and scheduling of all trainings, conferences, and events from Synergent and the League—including the League’s Annual Convention and Synergent’s Annual Connect Conference.
“We usually create the class offerings based on what we have offered in previous years, but the most important factor is feedback from credit unions,” shared Inkley. “Everyone this past year said they wanted Bank Secrecy Act training to be in-person again, so we are going to be holding it both in-person in the spring and virtually in the fall next year. Receiving feedback throughout the year on how we can improve our educational offerings, trainings, and events is the most helpful way for us to be able to move forward and implement what credit unions really would like to see and truly helps us have a better understanding of what will help them.”
From Themes to Triumphs: Event Planning and Coordination
During the beginning stages of putting an event together, Inkley focuses on choosing a topic and a theme before proceeding to build the event around that.
“Although it may not seem like it, a lot of event planning is in the research prior to the event,” explained Inkley. “As someone who is not coming from a credit union background, I try my best to make sure I am staying up to date on credit union news, what is relevant, and what will be impactful in this industry.”
Once the topic and theme are selected, she can start diving into which speaker(s) would best fit the topic.
“Speaker and topic suggestions are a huge help to me in planning future events because I would love to be picking speakers and topics that our credit unions want to see and are interested in,” Inkley expressed.
When it comes to the League’s big Annual Convention, a lot of energy, planning, thought, and coordinating goes into it. The 2023 Convention was Inkley’s first year taking on this incredibly daunting task, and she knocked it out of the park! In fact, she considers making it through her first Convention one of the highlights of her career with the organization so far!
“Convention is our largest event and has the most work behind it for two reasons,” explained Inkley. “One reason is because we have an exhibitor hall with vendors in addition to regular Convention sessions and attendees, so it requires managing two different parts of an event, two different kinds of registrations, and two different groups of attendees. The second reason is that although the Holiday Inn by the Bay is a wonderful space, it does not have everything we need onsite, so we work with a lot of outside vendors, like our AV team and an event setup team, to make the vendor hall come together. Planning for Convention could be my sole job and focus from January until May, so it is really important to still be managing my time appropriately and still be able to focus on all of our other trainings and events that happen in between.”
While Convention is the largest event Inkley manages, it is surely not the only one. She also plans the logistics for the Synergent Connect User conference, as well as multiple virtual and in-person professional development trainings; a multitude of smaller, content-focused conferences (i.e. Human Resources Council events, Global Women’s Leadership events, assisting with Campaign for Ending Hunger events, and much more); and she manages communications and web content for these offerings while tracking every little detail for each one.
Even with all the efforts of Inkley to make these events a success, participation and involvement from the credit union staff are what make it all come together and worthwhile.
“Credit union participation and attendance is important at the events Synergent and the League put on for many reasons,” mentioned Inkley. “It is so great to just get people together in one space where attendees are there for a common goal and can network and share their own knowledge with each other. Some credit unions may not realize that another credit union is sharing similar challenges or frustrations, and even just having a space to get together and discuss that is important.”
Another great reason for credit union involvement is that she does her very best “to obtain relevant speakers who have pertinent information to share with credit unions so they can continue to gain knowledge to help them better-serve their members.” Specifically, big events like the League’s Convention and Synergent’s Connect Conference are optimal times for credit union staff of all levels to come together.
“It is fun, educational, and motivational; we want people to leave and feel inspired about the work they are doing,” Inkley added.
Building Bonds: Connection with Credit Unions and Community Involvement
The interaction her role has directly with “all of the incredible staff at the credit unions” is one of Inkley’s favorite aspects of her job. She feels everyone is so kind and welcoming, and she said it is rewarding to finish a successful event and receive positive feedback.
“Since joining the company in September of 2022, I have gained a community of people who would do anything to help their colleagues and learned that the credit union community is extremely special,” Inkley reflected.
When not at the helm of Synergent and League events and training offerings, Inkley is actively engaged in her local community!
“I consider myself a huge foodie,” Inkley shared. “Outside of work, I love to go out to eat at new restaurants in Portland and the surrounding area. I enjoy being active and am working on my skiing skills, as I do love the winter and the snow. I also volunteer at the animal shelter and try my best to not take home every animal because my two cats would not like that.”
The League and Synergent are grateful for Inkley’s efforts all year long and appreciate her constant hard work to help meet ongoing credit union needs. She is a valued member of our team!