New chief executive Tania Dickie with chairman Bevan Killick. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Newly appointed Credit Union South chief executive Tania
Dickie has some daunting territory to cover, with branches
stretching from Nelson to Invercargill and points in between.
Business editor Dene Mackenzie caught up with Ms Dickie this
Credit Union South chief executive Tania Dickie knows already
how big a job she has getting around the branches of the
South Island's largest credit union, having already worked
for the credit union since 2012 as chief operating officer.
In that position she was responsible for the day-to-day
operations of the business.
She has been acting chief executive for six months.
Ms Dickie said it was an exciting time being appointed the
chief executive and she remained passionate about the role of
the credit union in local communities.
''I have the full support of the team and they are happy
someone with a short time in Dunedin, in Dunedin terms, has
One of her first goals is to increase the recognition factor
of the credit union, something past chief executives of both
Credit Union South and the former Otago Credit Union battled
Even some people in Dunedin did not know about or understand
the credit union, but recognition was far less in
Christchurch, a key market, she said. Ms Dickie intended
spending time in Christchurch as the city had always been
under-represented as far as the credit union was concerned.
''With the rebuild under way, we have built up relationships
with organisers and tradespeople. We have been working with
the Filipino community and taken out a sponsorship with the
Burnside Rugby Club.''
Two branches in Sydenham and Hornby catered for where people
worked, not necessarily where they lived, and focused on
people working in factories and construction in those
surrounding areas, she said. Credit unions had previously
operated in Christchurch but Ms Dickie believed there was
more scope now with the rebuild under way and workers
flooding into the city looking for jobs.
''The target market for the Credit Union is around Sydenham
and our Hornby branch is in a good location in The Hub
The mall was going through a major expansion and foot traffic
was increasing, she said.
As well as lifting the profile of the credit union, Mrs
Dickie was also keen to promote the credit union's philosophy
of helping people manage their own money and meet their
personal financial goals.
Traditionally, the market for the credit union had been
factory workers and in Dunedin, the branch opened two nights
a week to accommodate people who found it difficult to take
time off during the day to deal with their finances.
In Invercargill, the branch opened on Saturday for those who
could not make a visit during the week. That allowed people
working out of town, on farms or other enterprises, to use
the branch, she said.
KiwiSaver had proved invaluable for helping people into their
first homes. Credit Union South had $35 million under
management in one of the Fisher Funds' KiwiSaver schemes.
''We enjoy seeing members coming to the end of the saving
process and picking up the keys to their first home.
Sometimes, buying is more affordable than renting and Dunedin
has more affordable homes compared to other parts such as
Auckland, Christchurch and Nelson.''
People who had been in the scheme for three years were
eligible for Government help and, after a qualifying period,
could go to their provider for a payout and the credit union
could help by lending them the rest.
Although not being able to compete with larger retail banks,
Credit Union South still had an enviable record of helping
people into homes.
''We are happy to help people who meet credit unions' values
coming from other institutions.''
Giving members the confidence to achieve their goals, often
starting small and ending large, was very rewarding, she
Asked about her background, Ms Dickie said she started
working for the BNZ after leaving school, as many people did.
After moving on to AGC Finance, she was mentored by members
of the staff who encouraged her to do a degree part-time
while being supported at work.
''That business was excellent and I try an instil the lessons
from AGC wherever I work. I like to think I provide mentoring
to my staff now. I always encourage young staff to try and
establish their goals and desires and be successful.''
Without a formal training programme at her disposal, Ms
Dickie encouraged people to study and stressed passing the
exam was not the only goal. Setting aside time to study was a
commitment that displayed dedication. Credit Union South
chairman Bevan Killick said the board was confident Ms Dickie
had the experience, leadership capabilities and skills to
build on the existing strengths of the credit union.
''Tania emerged head and shoulders above an exceptional group
of candidates. She has the full support of the board to lead
the organisation into the future.''
• Aged 47
• Married to Graham
• Cat called Baxter
• Loves watching sport, keen supporter (now) of the
Highlanders, junior rugby supporter with friends, but cannot
say she is a sport participant. Previously a competitive
• Likes shopping, art, wine and holidaying where it is
• Main goal: Lifting the recognition factor for Credit Union
South in areas it covers - Nelson, Greymouth, Christchurch,
Timaru, Oamaru, Dunedin and Invercargill.