Closeup: Fumbi Chima, Chief Technology and Transformation Officer, BECU

"Although technology is going to be the enabler, transformation is going to involve changing the way we work.”

Fumbi Chima, Chief Technology and Transformation Officer BECU

As BECU’s Chief Technology and Transformation Officer, Fumbi sees her top priority as “helping her organization become a digitally-powered banking cooperative,” with simplification and digitalization at the core of the transformation. “I was recruited specifically for digital transformation, which involves not just transforming BECU’s technology but also the enterprise as a whole.” She views this transformation as a competitive imperative for better serving members “since it is much easier and cheaper for consumers to switch financial institutions than ever before.”

With $30.4 billion of assets, 60 branches and 1.34 million members, BECU is the fourth-largest U.S. credit union. Growth figures point to the success of BECU’s digital strategy. In 2021, the number of new members joining BECU online grew 21.25% to 17,600, and the value of digital loans rose by 60% to over $1 billion. BECU saw its overall assets grow by 12.7% in 2021 from $26.8 billion in 2020, while total deposits rose by 16% to $26.1 billion.

Transformation is About More Than Technology

Fumbi points out that “People think that if you transform the technology, then everything else gets fixed. But you also need to transform the enterprise’s way of working and its operating models. Our initiative encompasses both front- and back-office transformation.” She believes that “although technology is going to be the enabler, transformation is going to involve changing the way we work” which she sees as both difficult and exciting.  

For example, technologies such as robotic process automation uses automation to perform mundane tasks previously done by employees, generating efficiencies and cost savings for financial institutions. As importantly, staff previously weighed down by these responsibilities, are now freed up to be customer focused, providing advice on investments and loans. 

 

Advice from the C-Suite on Advancement and Leadership

Fumbi has been a career-long advocate for diversity, inclusion and equity for women, and especially women in tech. She has created mentoring opportunities for women in science, technology, engineering and math.

As a woman in tech who has advanced to the highest corporate levels, she offers these insights for women looking to high-level tech careers:

  • From the earliest career stages, understand the importance of building relationships. “Find people you admire and seek out their mentorship”
  • Be willing to take on roles across different tech areas including architecture, engineering, infrastructure and security
  • Gain an understanding of the overall technology landscape
  • Have a firm grasp of what your role will demand in the present, medium and long terms
  • Have a career trajectory, but be willing to be flexible along the way

Additionally, Fumbi advises women at all corporate levels to “be resilient and understand that you own your own journey.”

Prior to BECU, Fumbi served as chief information officer at adidas in Germany, where she led a customer-centric digital transformation, creating and operating an agile digital foundation. Before joining adidas, she served as CIO for several other global organizations, including Fox Network Group, Burberry, Walmart Asia’s business operations and American Express’ global corporate technologies with heavy-duty experience in leading digital and organizational transformations, and in driving business outcomes through the use of technology and digital solutions. In addition to technology, Fumbi’s background showcases a dedication to diversity, women’s empowerment, and inclusion. She is experienced in building high-performing and diverse cultures in Fortune 500 companies and in signature brands.