Author: Joyce Marcel
Photo: Robert Miller is the CEO of the Vermont State Employees Credit Union (VSECU). Photo: Randolph T. Holhut.
For Vermont, Robert Miller wears his heart on his sleeve for all the world to see.
Miller has twice left the lucrative world of high finance to return to Vermont for jobs that pay less but offer a lot more socially responsible fun. This last time, he says, is really the last. This time he’s here for good.
Miller is the CEO of the Vermont State Employees Credit Union (VSECU). He is something of a golden boy at the climax of a gilded career.
Right out of college he became a trainee at Citibank; by the time he was 23, he was running bank branches in the greater New York City area. At 29, he was the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Economic Development under Howard Dean.
Then he led Dwight Asset Management’s fixed income business development efforts targeting the pension, foundation and endowment markets.
By the time he was in his 40s, he was the head of global business development for Conning, a Connecticut-based global investment management firm; he was considered one of the top young men in his field.
But for a man like Miller, whose heartstrings are roped by rubber to Vermont, each time the state has exerted its magic pull, he’s cheerfully taken a pay cut and returned.
When Miller left Conning for VSECU in 2014, he inherited an organization that had recently finished an enormous expansion under its recently retired CEO.
Within a few weeks on the job, Miller had begun upending the credit union’s culture, moving it away from a hierarchical, top-down management system.
“Ask employees, ’What’s the most important thing that Rob has done as CEO?’” Miller joked. “They probably tell you, ‘We don’t have to pay for our coffee and we get to wear jeans.’ I’m not sure that’s the most important thing I’ve done, but I get credit for it nonetheless.”
At 52, Miller looks like he stepped out of an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog.
He’s handsome, affable, soft-spoken and blond. He has a wry sense of humor and an easy way of carrying himself. He looks as if he’s made for silk ties and bespoke suits.
“I have to dust them off when I take them out of the closet now,” he jokes. He was wearing a striped suit jacket, a crisp casual shirt open at the neck, sneakers and jeans when we met for an interview at VSECU’s Burlington branch (before the COVID-19 crisis hit home in February).
Once the credit union’s management structure had begun changing, Miller went about adding more social responsibility components to an already socially-responsible credit union.
Under his leadership, VSECU has earned praise for its environmental focus, its involvement with the Vermont Food Bank, its solar funding, its willingness to become the banker for the medicinal marijuana industry, and now, for seemingly cornering the banking market on hemp.
Besides taking over at VSECU, Miller has jumped onto the boards of like-minded nonprofits such as the Energy Action Network and the Vermont Council on Rural Development. He recently joined the advisory board for the Sustainable Business MBA program at the University of Vermont’s Grossman School of Business. He also serves on the boards of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont and Union Mutual Insurance Company.
To read the full article, click here: https://vermontbiz.com/profiles-in-business/vbm-april-2020-issue