The ACU Employee Spotlight series features some of the many people that work at the credit union, highlighting how their unique roles help members and the community every day. In this article, we get to know Kirstin Witwicki.
Kirstin Witwicki is a shining example of the incredible team members that work at ACU. With her years of experience working in different departments at the credit union, her wealth of knowledge and positive spirit is ever-present.
As a Financial Service Advisor (FSA), Kirstin proudly demonstrates her commitment to helping members find success in their day-to-day banking, saving and financial health. What’s more, Kirstin also spends many hours volunteering her time with two local organizations — both of which are near and dear to her heart and the same vision of helping others.
Now, let’s get to know a little more about Kirstin, her role, her thoughts on the future of banking, and how she gives back to the local community.
Getting to know Kirstin:
Question (Q): How long have you worked at ACU?
It has been 13 amazing years!
Q. Describe a “day in the life” of your role.
My role changes daily, and that is what I love about the Member Communication Centre (MCC) — it always keeps me on my toes!
A regular day would have me communicating with our members over the phone or by email. Together we come up with the best lending or investment product to suit their current and future needs.
I also routinely call our members just to check in and see if they need anything or have any concerns that they would like to share with me. In addition, I work with members of our virtual institution, Outlook Financial, and assist them in becoming members with us.
The MCC is normally a very fast placed place to work, so I like to make sure I take a moment to breathe and laugh. So a day in the life of my role also includes singing and dancing at my desk!
Q. What is your favourite part of working at ACU?
The absolute favourite thing for me about working at ACU is that I do not have to leave my values at home when I come to work. My personal values about the importance of community match perfectly with ACU’s.
It feels amazing to come to work and know that my employer has the best interest of our community at heart.
Q. What is a great financial tip you learned over the years that was a surprising help?
Credit bureaus and your scores can be fixed! It can be overwhelming for members who are struggling with past or current challenges that are reflected in their credit rating. People can feel disheartened, but everything can be fixed.
We cannot change the past, but we can work on changing the future. I love working with members on a plan and seeing them achieve their financial goals.
Q. What’s a fun fact about yourself that most people wouldn’t know?
I was lucky enough to be selected as one of the Indigenous Summer Scholars at The University of Winnipeg this summer, and I am currently working on an Ojibwe language cookbook with the university and Bloodvein First Nation.
Helping others kick-start their careers:
Q. How did you get started in the financial industry?
I was involved in a program with my high school, Children of the Earth, which facilitated students to work as tellers in a local bank branch one day during the week and during the summer months. I took that knowledge and ran with it!
Q. How has your role evolved since you started?
I have had many roles at ACU, all of which have taught me valuable skills and knowledge.
I first started in the MCC as an Inbound Representative, and wow, did I learn a lot during that time! I took that knowledge and used it to move into my current role as FSA — for the first time. I then moved to a department called Service Excellence, where I worked with two coworkers to provide support to all of ACU’s other employees, ensuring we were all following policies and procedures.
I also spent some time working out of Mount Carmel Clinic as an FSA, opening memberships for our members who were referred to us through our community partner referrals.
Before heading back to the MCC, I worked as a Financial Account Manager in our Main Street branch. That was my last stop before I admitted that I loved MCC too much to work in any other department for too long — so I came back to my role as FSA!
Q. What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
You have to work hard on having genuine conversations with your customers so you can provide them with solid financial advice, which may not even be what they originally thought they needed. They may be originally looking for help on one thing in particular, but by listening to their needs and having an active conversation, you can uncover a lot more to help them out.
Conversations can be difficult at times, but it is our job to help our members not only meet today’s needs, but to also meet their future goals.
Q. Why would you encourage people to work at ACU in particular?
ACU works hard to empower their employees and have them feel that they are a part of something bigger — that they are a part of a financial institution that truly cares about the people who work here and the people they serve.
Q. What brings you the most joy from being part of ACU?
I think for me, being heard and valued. I am incredibly grateful that when ACU’s employees speak, they listen.
Back in 2017, I helped start a group called the Indigenous Leadership Circle (ILC). Since the beginning, we have had wonderful support from ACU leadership, and gratitude that the ILC wanted to help in ACU’s journey of reconciliation.
The future of our community
Q. How have you been involved with the community?
I started with the Onaman Collective back in 2017, and it provided me with an opportunity to be involved with and volunteer for an amazing organization without leaving my home. I had young children at home and I was finding it hard to parent, work, go to school and still time to be active in my community. Volunteering there was a perfect fit because I could do it from the comfort of my home when my kids were sleeping — and I could still feel involved. I now help administer the online auction group called Onaman Auction for Action, where people donate items to auction and all proceeds go to a language camp in Ontario.
I started volunteering on a regular basis with Bear Clan in early 2019 and fell in love with the work. Originally, I started volunteering with the group as part of an ILC initiative where I brought coworkers out with me to volunteer with an Indigenous organization, and from there I was hooked. The Bear Clan is an amazing organization with patrols in five areas of the city and some incredibly dedicated volunteers. Because of my involvement with the organization, I have made some long-lasting connections within the community. It always warms my heart to see how our volunteers interact with each other.
We come from all walks of life, but when we come together we are truly a family. We meet people where they are because most of us have been in that exact same space at some point in our lives, and all it takes is one moment and we could all easily be there again.
Q. How have you seen members make improvements in their financial lives?
I have seen so many positive financial changes — from young members who have just started out using secured loans to save up for their first vehicle to established members who make that last payment on their mortgage. Each comes with its own feeling of accomplishment.
Q. Why would you encourage people to become an ACU member?
If you want to be proud of your financial institution, then become a member with ACU. We give so much back to our communities, and employee status aside, I am truly proud to be a member of an organization who tries hard to mirror the communities that it serves.
Q. What’s the most exciting thing to come in the future of credit unions?
For me personally, I think the most exciting thing will be the reconciliation movement in the credit union system. I am excited to see the changes that ACU and other credit unions are making, and how that will trickle down into their communities, including the way in which they serve them.