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.
If you’ve ever called or emailed Assiniboine Credit Union, you’ve likely spoken to one of the friendly team members of the Member Communication Centre. As one of the managers of the Member Communication Centre, Shawn McGillivray is committed to providing exceptional customer support.
In this employee spotlight, we learn how Shawn got started in the business and how her role has evolved over the years. We also learn how her passion for better banking weaves into the evolution of our community, extending her impact far beyond the limits of Shawn’s day-to-day role.
Getting to know Shawn:
Question (Q): How long have you worked at ACU?
I’ve been with ACU for 12 years now.
Q. Describe a “day in the life” of your role.
Part of what I love about this job is that it’s different every day. I might spend time investigating an issue, reviewing calls, speaking to members, coaching my team and working on project teams. The most consistent part of my job is implementing change.
Q. What is your favourite part of working at ACU?
There are so many things I love about the time I’ve been at ACU. I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment, knowing that I work for a financial institution that prioritizes people and community along with the bottom line. I love the people I work with – at the end of the day, they make this a place I enjoy coming to every day.
Q. What’s a great financial tip you learned over the years that was a surprising help?
If you pay off a loan, just keep putting that money into some sort of investment or savings account – you’ve likely lived without the payment amount for several years, so you’re not going to miss it anyway. That will add up really quickly, and if you need to borrow in the future you can borrow against that savings at an extremely low rate. So you can buy that next car without depleting your savings.
Q. What’s a fun fact about yourself that most people wouldn’t know?
I spent four months travelling in India and South Asia in 2007 with my then boyfriend, now husband, India, in particular, was life changing.
Helping others kickstart their careers:
Q. How did you get started in the financial industry?
By accident… seriously. Finance was supposed to be a pit stop on the way to something more “interesting,” but it turns out that helping our members to make the most of their finances, and working for a company that understands the absolute necessity of having a bank account and being financially literate in today’s economy, are things that I am really passionate about.
Q. How has your role evolved since you started?
I’ve been in my current role for about a year and a half, and it has changed tremendously in that time. We evolved our sales approach to be even more member focused, we have implemented a new phone system that allows me to spend less time doing data analysis, and more time planning and coaching.
We are also exploring what it means to be a contact centre in today’s world, and what our members need from us now and into the future. It’s a really exciting time to be here.
Q. What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
Get every leadership experience you can – formal or informal. Help train and mentor people who are new to your role, look for ways to create efficiencies and talk to your manager, and participate on committees – even lead them if you can. For me, leading the ACU United Way Campaigns in 2012-2013 was a huge opportunity.
Find leaders you respect and learn everything you can from them. Take classes on your own time in order to demonstrate your commitment to growth and learning. While it is an asset to know how a department works in order to lead it, those are hard skills you can acquire. Developing your soft skills and competencies is what will allow you to grow into a leadership role.
Q. Why would you encourage people to work at ACU in particular?
We are in a highly changing environment that is full of exciting opportunities as we look to compete in a market that is local, but is increasingly impacted by the global economy. ACU’s vision of the impact a financial institution can have on the economy, on its community, and our commitment to Values Based Banking make this a truly unique place to work in the Manitoba financial industry.
Q. What brings you the most joy from being part of ACU?
Getting to know my team – I am so privileged that they choose to share so much of their lives, their success and challenges, both personal and professional with me. Working with them to find their path, meet their goals and find what gives them joy in life is the best part of my job.
The future of our community
Q. What excites you about the positive changes happening in our community?
Winnipeg is such a vibrant place to live. I feel like now, more than ever, people are really proud and excited to live here. We have so many vibrant festivals that celebrate our culture and the arts, plus embracing our cold climate and showcasing how much fun a Winnipeg winter can be.
I think we have a lot of great organizations that have embraced models that aim for systemic change, and not just providing a one-time intervention – from Siloam Mission’s full service facility that looks to provide solutions to homelessness, rather than just a meal and a bed, to IRCOM that provides a place for refugee families to begin rebuilding their lives. We also have social enterprises like Mother Earth Recycling that keeps old mattresses out of landfills, employ incarcerated women, teach employable skills on release, repurpose the old mattress materials into useful items – and then sell those items to consumers. That is a business with big social and environmental impact.
This evolution of Winnipeg into a modern city with a social conscience makes me really excited to be part of this community.
Q. How have you seen members make improvements in their financial lives?
The success stories from our Asset Building Programs are so impactful. These programs help to make ‘unachievable’ savings goals ‘achievable’ by providing matched dollars for participants. But more than that, they offer financial literacy tools and budgeting tools that impact entire families and communities so that they can change their financial lives.
Q. Why would you encourage people to become an ACU member?
Because I am not aware of another Manitoba financial institution that offers the same great service, all the key industry technology, along with our focus on people, planet and prosperity. Why wouldn’t you want to bank with us?
Q. What does “Money Doing More” mean to you?
Money Doing More is using profits to be inclusive — to bring people in, and help them achieve their goals no matter how big or how small by promoting financial literacy, serving the underbanked, providing sound advice through wealth management, or through basic budgeting, supporting a healthy planet and a healthy community.
It’s realizing that every choice you make with your profits impacts every person in our community, and looking to ensure that whenever possible, those impacts are positive and support the kind of future we want for our community.
Q. What’s the most exciting thing to come in the future of credit unions?
We are seeing a real thirst for change at a global level in recent years — from the movement to support local, to concepts of equity and inclusion. Cooperatives and credit unions fill gaps that the bigger financial institutions are incapable of filling, simply through our business model — the equitable distribution of power to all members, based on equal ownership and equal say — and for Canadian credit unions, our focus on investment in local economies.
If we can leverage our position in local markets, in a way that helps individual consumers understand that credit unions are not just small, local banks — if we can show them how their money truly does do more with us, and still gets them the same access to service, advice and technology — we are in a unique position to help bring about the kind of systemic change in the economy that could impact generations to come.