Welcome to HSSCU’s Staff Focus!
We are delighted to introduce you to one of our Member Services Officers in our Ranelagh branch – Barry! Barry is young and full of energy. He is always here for our members and a great part of our Ranelagh team. He talks us through his fitness regimes, introduces us to his dog Tyson and tells us about the Ranelagh office 🙂
Hi Barry, firstly tell us a little bit about yourself!
Well my name is Barry Cooney, I am 26 and I am originally from Cavan. I went to NUI Galway and studied English and History. After receiving my degree, I had an interview with Ranelagh Credit Union and now, through the merge with HSSCU, I am working here three and a half years at this stage.
What led you to working in the Credit Union Movement?
Originally, I thought I wanted to become a teacher, hence studying English and History, but the further I got into my degree, the less I was enjoying it. Also, I don’t think I would have the patience required when you see how good our teachers are with students. I then got informed about a vacant position in Ranelagh Credit Union and I haven’t looked back since.
You work in our Ranelagh office, which joined HSSCU in 2019 – How was the transition for you? Are there many differences between both CUs?
Big changes yes! All for the better too. When we were Ranelagh credit union, we had a small team of 7. Once the transfer went through, I had over 80 work colleagues! The team we have now is great, no matter how stuck you are or what query you have, there is always someone available to give you any answers or advice.
Our Ranelagh & District branch is in one of our 2 community common bonds. How is it serving the community of Dublin 6?
I like to think that we are serving our Dublin 6 community in numerous different ways now since the merge. We have two other branches available to our members in Dublin and we also have branches available nationwide. When we were on our own as Ranelagh Credit Union, we didn’t have the infrastructure and support that we now have as HSSCU. We have a phones team that is always available for all and any queries, or alternatively if our members want, there is an online platform that makes it possible to do online banking anytime, anywhere.
How do you feel the original members of your CU found the transition to HSSCU?
I would like to think that they have found it quite a nice and seamless transition. As Ranelagh credit union before the merge, we were quite fortunate to have members that are so friendly and interactive in our Dublin 6 common bond. This has enabled us to get some great feedback. To be able to tell them about all the additional services we have gained since merging with the HSSCU is also a great positive, we are a lot more modern and constantly striving for improvements.
What is an example of your general day in HSSCU?
Working in our Ranelagh branch is great, there is so much variation on a day to day basis, which is what I need. I can be on the counter dealing with our members face-to-face, on the phones helping them with any problems they are having with their online accounts or I could be opening up new accounts for new members.
How have things changed since COVID-19?
How have things not changed from Covid-19?! For two or three weeks our Ranelagh branch was closed to the public, which was a very strange experience, we as staff have never been closed to the public. A lot of our members are used to face-to-face chats and conversations whilst doing their transactions so I’m sure they missed it too. On a side-note, I have also got a part-time job during COVID-19, becoming a professional-amateur barber for my three housemates. Times really have changed when my friends are trusting me with a pair of scissors around their hair!
How do you keep sane at this time?
I love going for walks with my dog Tyson, it’s as good for keeping your sanity as anything in the world. I’ll listen to podcasts while on them too – anything sports related, nothing too productive. We had a fantastic fundraiser here in HSSCU for one of our charity partners, LauraLynn, which involved us trying to do as many steps as possible for the month of June, so that was added motivation to get out and about. Apart from that, I’m trying to improve my cooking and learn new recipes which I’m also finding surprisingly enjoyable and relaxing.
What are your guilty pleasures to help you through the pandemic?
There has been too many rocky road cakes baked and devoured. That of course goes hand in hand with slumping into the couch and watching Netflix for hours. I’ve also got back in to playing my playstation and wasting any amount of time in front of it. I’m going to stop at that because this list could go on and on…
You’re known as a bit of a fitness fanatic! What tips would you have for some of us to start or improve our fitness journeys?
My biggest recommendation would definitely be just find an exercise or activity that you enjoy, there’s so many of them. Walking, volleyball, tennis, there are teams and clubs out there for everything. I personally hate running so that’s something I do as a last resort for my exercise. Since the pandemic I have taken up pilates and I am thoroughly enjoying it. It works up quite a sweat whilst leaving you feel great after it, which I think is all anyone wants from their exercise.
What is your favourite thing about working in HSSCU?
Easily my new work colleagues and meeting our HSSCU members. Funny story here actually, I was on our new members phone line answering a query for someone looking to join us last week and he had me on loudspeaker. Once I told him my name, he asked where I was from and I said Cavan. He followed that up with asking me did I know (insert one of my best friend’s name here) and I burst out laughing. The two of them were on lunch together working for the National Ambulance Services! So that was a timely reminder of just how big and nationwide a Credit Union we are, whilst also reminding me of our personal touch of getting to know our members.
The High St. office loves cream buns – do the Ranelagh office have any favourite treats?
I am personally an absolute disaster for caramel squares, I could eat them by the dozen. Any time jam donuts come in to the staff canteen they don’t seem to last too long, but that can be said for pretty much any sweet or savoury treat or snack.
Do you have any shows or movies you’d recommend we watch to brighten up our days?
Ricky Gervais’s ‘Afterlife’ is definitely my biggest recommendation. If you’re not a Ricky Gervais fan, don’t let that put you off it, I haven’t heard of one person not enjoying it! Plus they are only twenty minute episodes so you won’t feel like you’re wasting all your spare time watching them. ‘The Last Dance’ is also a fascinating insight in to one of the most driven and famous sports stars we have seen, Michael Jordan. He will, without a doubt, split opinions after watching it, but his commitment and drive is relentless and has to be admired.
Lastly, what, in your opinion, makes credit unions different to other places you’ve worked?
The relationship and availability we have with our members has to be the biggest difference for me. Whether it’s online, over the phone or in any of our branches, we are always available to our members. This is something I have never experienced before and take great pride in HSSCU for it.