The Power of Transparency with Navy Federal Credit Union’s Holly Kortright

 The Power of Transparency with Navy Federal Credit Union’s Holly Kortright

High-trust leadership

The CHRO of one of the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® shares career lessons, podcast recommendations, and her take on the future of work.

How is your organization preparing for the transformation promised by the rise of generative AI?

Holly Kortright, chief human resource officer at Navy Federal Credit Union, says the technology has much to offer for HR leaders. At the top of her list? AI’s ability to improve talent development and growth opportunities.

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Kortright shared career advice, tips for building a stronger workplace culture, and podcast recommendations for the latest edition of our community spotlight series “How I Got Here”.

What was the hook that first got you interested in workplace culture?

Kortright: What got me hooked was the strong sense of culture at one of my first employers.

It resonated throughout my training and development and while serving in several roles on various teams. I realized you could have the “whole package” by growing and developing talent and creating value for customers. The ability to deliver business goals while helping employees drive transformational change is what hooked me then and still drives me today.

What has been the biggest challenge you faced in your career when trying to build a great workplace culture?

Kortright: One of the biggest challenges is when team members are fearful about promotions, feedback, and career advancement. I strive to be fully transparent with my team members in how I communicate, share feedback, develop them and involve them in decision-making.

By being transparent, a level of trust is created where my team feels they can bring their authentic selves to work, challenge each other, and innovate. And that’s what really creates a phenomenal workplace culture.

What is the No. 1 lesson you have learned about what it means to be a great workplace in a post-pandemic environment?

Kortright: The pandemic accelerated the need for organizations to start looking at the whole person, not just the employee.

As a not-for-profit credit union, owned and governed by our members, Navy Federal is committed to doing the right thing. For us, that starts with providing authentic care and support to our team members as whole people, extending to our members and the communities we serve.

Our focus will always be on our people.

How do you think artificial intelligence will change your work? Are you excited for those changes?

Kortright: I’m very excited for AI! One of the things that I’m most excited for is leveraging AI to do a better job of matching skill sets and interests with jobs. This will really help to accelerate talent development and improve pairings for learning and development with suitable roles. This is going to be very powerful for all parties involved – organizations, communities, and team members.

What’s your favorite career advice you’ve ever received? Why?

Kortright: My mentor once told me it’s important to find something that you’re passionate about. Once you find something that excites you, you’ll be more eager to learn and take risks, which will build up your level of confidence. Then pairing that passion with an organization that has a great mission will enable you to add value to a broader community of people.

What’s a recent book or podcast you loved that you recommend to our community?

Kortright: I highly recommend listening to Adam Grant’s podcasts, “Rethinking” and “Work Life.” He always has a great line up of guest speakers and challenges his viewers to think outside the box by offering different perspectives and alternative ways to approach tasks.

What about your job makes you excited to come to work every day?

Kortright: Creating an environment where I get to see my team members learn, grow, and have opportunities to develop themselves. As chief human resources officer, I help my team members figure out how to take on that next job and try something new.

When I see that happen and the impact it has on our members’ lives, that’s a pretty phenomenal way to start and end each day.

If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about how workplaces operate in the world today, what would it be?

Kortright: I would try to figure out ways we can be less dependent on the structure of full-time jobs and give team members more opportunities to try new roles and skill sets.

The next workforce generation enjoys pursuing passion projects. We should think about how we incorporate those projects and gig work into their day-to-day responsibilities to help fuel their passion and ability to give back and thrive.

Want to join the conversation? Email Ted Kitterman to learn more about participating in our profiles series.

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Ted Kitterman