Speaker Spotlight: Bill Oemichen


Bill once received the following nugget of advice:

"Do serious work with others, but don't take yourself too seriously"

That is certainly advice worth following given his history in the co-operative sector. It's a testament to this experience that it's difficult to summarize what hat Bill has on at any one time. Not only is he the former president and CEO of the largest state-wide co-operative enterprise in the US, he also holds unique insights into the role co-operatives play in the economy from his time as the chief Consumer Advocate & Deputy Agriculture Commissioner in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Currently serving on the board of directors for a $330bn co-operative American Farm Credit System, his 2018 Gathering session on the 'Value of Co-operative Collaboration on Legislative and Regulatory Advocacy'  is sure to be one full of stories and gems. 

We got to know a little bit more about Bill earlier this month...

We're excited to hear from you in October, what will your plenary focus on?

Wisconsin and Minnesota co-operatives of all types have found tremendous value in collaborating through Cooperative Network to achieve considerable success on federal and state legislative and regulatory issues. Attendees at the Gathering will gain important insights as to why and how co-operatives have successfully collaborated to ensure Wisconsin and Minnesota remain the leading co-operative business state, and how Alberta's co-operatives can learn and implement these methods.

Growing up, what career did you dream about?

I really wanted to be a meteorologist. Our weather greatly impacts the quality of our lives and I always had this desire to want to understand our weather better.

Which leader inspires you and why?

Benjamin Franklin. Besides creating the U.S. Postal Service, gaining the support of the French in the American Revolution, and in helping to write the American Declaration of Independence, he argued that we could achieve much more working together than we could separately. He put his words into action by working with others to create the Philadelphia Contributorship, America's oldest mutual property and casualty insurance company that continues to operate, and America's first co-operative business.

What do you see as the biggest challenge in growing the co-operative and credit union sector?: 

Co-operatives operating in a competitive marketplace can become too focused on being successful businesses and lose the understanding of why we are member-owned co-operatives in the first place.  

What advice would you give to the Minister of Economic Development & Trade?

Co-operatives are the only type of business with a set of adopted principles that came to us from 19th century English weavers. These principles are vitally important to us and distinguish us from investor-owned and privately held corporations. We are committed to our member-owners and our communities, and like the community-owned Green Bay Packers will never leave our community (editors note: the 'Aaron Rodgers Bay Packers' may be more appropriate). We are here to help build - not take profit - from our community.


Bill will be delivering his Keynote on Wednesday morning of the 2018 Gathering before being involved in our Leader Hotseat, where attendees get 1 on 1 time with co-operative business leaders. View the Agenda.