Leader Spotlight – Jenn Addabbo
In a very special spotlight this month, we are highlighting Jennifer Addabbo! Jenn is a co-founder of CU Engage, and the newly appointed CEO. Over the past seven years, Jenn has worked with James Guild to build, grow, and solidify CU Engage as the leading credit union consulting firm in the nation. It all began with an idea in an airport bar, and notes on a napkin on a work trip with James after leaving a credit union client who was using a consultant. From there, CU Engage was born with the intent to develop a consulting company that is one of a kind, one in which they would collaborate with credit unions, work with them to help them understand their unique needs, educate them on options and technology all while improving member experience, internal efficiencies and financial benefits.
Leading the Way
As CEO, Jenn’s main focus is a responsibility for ensuring the team has the tools and the guidance to do their jobs effectively (with a little fun thrown in) while looking to the future of our industry to ensure we always remain relevant to our clients and their needs. Jenn’s personal brand statement is “A well-rounded, positive influencer, supported by family and faith” and it is the perfect way to explain what makes her stand out in the industry.
Jenn was born in Tampa and lived there until middle school when she moved North to Maryland where she stayed until she finished out high school. After high school, Jenn attended James Madison University and graduated with a degree in Media Arts and Communications (originally, she wanted to be a news broadcaster!) before moving back down to Tampa and starting her career marketing and selling Check Warranty services at Certegy (now FIS). Jenn is one of those rare people who love cold calling, which to some of us seems impossible but it is so easy to believe once you get to know Jenn because she is super competitive… especially with herself! Early on, Jenn’s cold calling strategy was to flip through the yellow pages and start calling from whatever random page presented itself. From FIS, she moved on to PSCU to help launch their digital platform and ultimately to lead their National Sales Team. Believe it or not, Jenn never wanted to be in sales because she felt like no one liked salespeople. She has now come to realize that the best salespeople aren’t selling anything at all, they are helpful, knowledgeable, and trusting, and that is what she always strives to be.
When Jenn isn’t working, she loves spending time spinning, boating, relaxing, and golfing, and is happiest when she is snuggled up with her husband and two boys on the couch watching a great movie. If she could choose a superpower, Jenn would have the ability to stop time, so she could relish in her favorite moments as long as possible. As she has grown and is now a wife and mom herself, she recognizes how special and is so appreciative of the relationship she has with her parents and for their support and guidance. Her main goal is that her kids have the same type of relationship with her when they are older.
Jenn is a strong and inspirational leader to the entire CU Engage team. Read on to learn more about Jenn and some of the things that make her such a joy to be around and to have as a leader, teammate, and confidant.
Fun Facts about Jenn
Q: What do you enjoy most about CU Engage? A: The people! Our team is caring, funny, effective, and passionate about what we do for our clients.
Q: What is one thing about you few people know? A: People tend to know everything about me – but maybe one thing is that I was in the play Gypsy as a 6-year-old living in Costa Rica (Played “Baby June”).
Q: What inspires you? A: My kids – they inspire me to do my best, to act as a role model for them as they grow up to hopefully continue to be amazing, kind people.
Q: What makes you laugh? A: EVERYTHING! I am constantly laughing – I get that from my dad who has an infectious laugh.
Q: What is your favorite 90’s jam? A: Oh, any and all 90’s rap and hip hop. I’ve rapped twice with Flava Flav at the Symitar SEC conference (and tied for first place in 2019!).
Q: What is on the radio in your car? A: A bit of a mix of Today’s Country and Christian Hits – so uplifting and calming among the challenges we are all living right now.
Q: What is your definition of success? A: Creating a legacy where people knew I truly cared about them and was a kind and generous person.
Q: What would you do if you won the lottery? A: I feel like I have already won the lottery in life!
Q: Describe CU Engage in 5 words or less: A: Passionate, Dedicated, Evolving, Educators, Growing
Q: What is your favorite holiday? A: Christmas Eve, I like it even better than Christmas, the calm, the anticipation of the morning and the excitement in my boys’ eyes…. (although my husband would say I would say my birthday!).
Q: Do you have a motto or a mantra? What is it? A: “Put it out into the universe and it will be” or “Play to Win”
Q: What book did you read last? A: I am in reading mode, inspired by my team! I am reading “Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod for the second time and just finished “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz.
Q: Best vacation you have ever taken? A: My Honeymoon to Costa Rica (much later than my original 6-year-old stint there – for clarification!).
Q: Are you messy or organized? A: Organized
Q: What celebrity do people think you look like? A: Cameron Diaz or Claire Danes (although it has been a while since anyone has said that – time for more spinning!).
Q: What is your guilty pleasure? A: Sleeping!
Q: Is the glass half empty or half full? A: Just grateful for the glass.
Q: First concert? A: New Kids on the Block
Q: What does true leadership mean to you? A: Trusting that the team you hired when armed with the right tools and a belief in the mission can accomplish far more things than you ever thought possible.