ACU Employee Spotlight: Getting to know Heather Sadowy
First published in October 2019 and updated in November 2021. Since first published, Heather has taken the role of Community Account Manager, adding new insights to her ACU journey that are shared below.
Every workplace has employees, but at ACU the people truly form a tight-knit community who get to know each other, their families, friends and the members that make up the credit union.
In the spirit of this community, the ACU Employee Spotlight series will feature some of the people that have worked at the credit union. Some for many years, others for just a short time. Some will have financial jobs and others might be designers. Some always dreamed of working for ACU, and others never knew these types of roles existed before they applied. It’s the diversity of our employees, members and community at large that makes us happy to be part of something great than the individual parts.
Let’s shine the spotlight on Heather Sadowy, Cash Management Specialist at ACU, and get to know her role, how she got started in 2004, how others could follow in her footsteps, and maybe a few extra tidbits we never expected!
Getting to know Heather:
Question (Q): How long have you worked at ACU?
I just hit the 17-year mark!
Q. Describe a “day in the life” of your role.
As a Community Account Manager, I work exclusively with businesses and non-profits, and primarily assist them with financing. My work is really a blend of two major areas: working on new financing requests and completing reviews of the existing business members in my portfolio.
For new requests, I need to compile information on the business and its owners, and do a deep-dive into the company’s financial statements. I also need to research the local market, demographics and the industry as a whole in order to complete an analysis on whether the debt is affordable for them and appropriate for the purpose, as well as whether the risk is acceptable to ACU.
For existing members, I usually review their situation annually to assess any major changes in their business model, staffing/ownership and overall financial picture. If new needs arise, then we address those as needed.
Because I have a specific set of members that are under my management, I also assist with any other needs they may have beyond their financing, so there is always something to do!
As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic and associated public health restrictions over the course of 2020 and into 2021 meant a lot of change for local business owners, so this has resulted in many unique situations for the members I deal with regularly.
Q. What is your favourite part of working at ACU?
I like working for an organization that does good things, and working with people who truly believe in the work ACU is doing for our community.
Q. What’s a fun fact about yourself that most people wouldn’t know?
I can play the tuba! (Actually, it’s been a while, but I am sure it’s like riding a bike).
Helping others kickstart their careers:
Q. How did you get started in the financial industry?
I never set out to work in the financial industry. I came from a customer service background, having been working in retail and restaurants. ACU was where I had my first and only bank account.
I was in the branch one day depositing my paycheque and it just occurred to me that this was customer service, too. So I figured I would apply and give it a shot!
Q. How has your role evolved since you started?
Like many of us here at ACU, I started as a Member Service Representative (MSR) and then became a Senior Member Service Representative (SMSR) in our downtown branches.
I was really interested in the work being done in our Community Financial Centre, so when an opening for an Administrator role came up in that department, I applied.
That was in 2007, and I have been with the business and community teams ever since, providing more in-depth support to our Account Managers and members in the small business, non-profit and co-op sectors.
In 2016, I moved into the Cash Management Specialist role, which focused on supporting business members with a variety of products and services to best manage their day-to-day banking needs, and most recently, in 2020, I moved into my current role as a Community Account Manager.
Q. What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
Don’t assume there is only one path or direction to get here. I enjoyed working with business members right from the get-go, so I started in roles that focused on serving that section of ACU’s membership right away, and I learned the lending aspect through a mixture of formal courses and general exposure.
It is important to have a customer service mindset and a focus on building relationships with the members you serve, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to learn how to read and interpret financial statements and get familiar with business structures and business plans, too.
Q. Why would you encourage people to work at ACU in particular?
ACU is so much more than a financial institution. Not only are there plenty of opportunities to develop your professional skills, but there are also so many other opportunities and things you will be exposed to in your role.
In my time at ACU, I have been on the employee-led Community Grants Committee and Emerging Leaders Committee, delivered United Way fundraising campaigns, written articles for our Asterisk newsletter, volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and the CCEDNET Gathering, participated in a Kairos blanket exercise and Mikinak-Keya Spirit Tour with our Indigenous Leadership Circle, attended a National Credit Union conference, participated in project teams to roll out new initiatives in the company — and the list goes on and on.
Q. What brings you the most joy from being part of ACU?
I love working with a group of people that are all focused on and dedicated to the same goal.
The future of our community
Q. Why would you encourage people to become an ACU member?
There is no shortage of places to bank, and you can have good (or bad) experiences anywhere. What I would urge people to think about is that when you bank with a credit union, the profits are being reinvested into the community, not into the pockets of a few shareholders like they are with a bank.
ACU is a local, member-owned co-operative — and as a member, you have a say in how your credit union is run and who is elected to represent you on the Board of Directors.
If you’re someone that thinks about supporting local business, caring for the environment, or bettering your communities, there’s no question that ACU is where you should be banking.
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