ACU Employee Spotlight: Getting to know Maria Cristina Laureano
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.
As a credit union that focuses on people, planet, and prosperity for all, ACU has many employees that work outside of the traditional finance positions. With a wealth of experience from different jobs, industries, walks of life and lived experiences, all of our employees are part of the ACU mosaic.
Such is the case with Maria Cristina (MC) Laureano, who works as ACU’s Community Relations Specialist, helping connect employees and members to key initiatives and programs. By extending ACU’s community reach, she works directly with partner agencies and organizations that are doing amazing things in Winnipeg and beyond. From community food drives and outreach programs through workshops and educational opportunities, MC manages these partnerships to make a difference in our community.
Let’s get to know more about MC, how her role has evolved to this vital position since first starting at the credit union, and what the future brings for her career.
Getting to know MC:
Q. How long have you worked at ACU?
I have worked at ACU since May 2018.
Q. Describe a “day in the life” of your role.
Every day is different, which keeps my role as ACU’s Community Relations Specialist interesting.
One of my primary duties is overseeing the grants and sponsorships program, which means reviewing applications and determining whether they fit ACU’s criteria.
I also lead the credit union’s social media presence. This involves responding to interactions on social networks, writing and scheduling posts, and managing our ad promotion.
I also work on different community relations-related projects, so I constantly have things on the go.
Q. What is your favourite part of working at ACU?
I like that my work is both challenging and rewarding. Plus, I’m part of an organization that I believe is making our community a better place.
Q. What’s a great financial tip you learned over the years that was a surprising help?
There’s been a lot of great tips — which is a benefit of working at a financial institution!
One of the first ones that come to mind is that every little bit of savings helps — especially when you start saving. It may not seem like much, but over time it can be pretty amazing how much money you can accumulate.
Q. What’s a fun fact about yourself that most people wouldn’t know?
I love running — and prefer to run in winter! This may seem crazy to some, but winter running is a great way to get outdoors when the weather gets cooler. As long as you layer properly, I find running in the wintertime actually more comfortable than in the summer (which can be too hot!).
Before the pandemic, I coached winter running clinics and was a volunteer organizer for local races.
Helping others kickstart their careers:
Q. How did you get started in the financial industry?
ACU is the first organization I’ve worked for in the financial industry. However, before ACU, I worked at an organization in the insurance sector. While it wasn’t finance per se, investing was a part of its business. I found that aspect of the industry fascinating, and it encouraged me to work directly in the financial industry.
I strongly believe financial literacy is not only practical, but should be essential knowledge.
Q. How has your role evolved since you started?
My role is brand new, having only been created last year. In the past, the role was called the Grants and Sponsorship Coordinator position: however, when I took on the role, it expanded to me having a more active presence in the community.
Q. What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
I would say be open, honest and transparent about your career goals. I had mentioned my interest in this role to management, which paved the way for my new role being created.
Q. Why would you encourage people to work at ACU in particular?
There are many benefits to working at ACU. A couple to mention include:
- The work you do directly supports our province.
- You’ll learn about financial literacy, which is so valuable.
- There are a lot of opportunities to grow and move around in the organization.
Q. What brings you the most joy from being part of ACU?
It’s incredibly rewarding when you collaborate with your team, work hard on a project, and then you see it come to fruition. Also, those who benefit from the results are individuals who need this support the most.
An example I can give is our community response drive, where we worked together as an organization to collect much-needed items for those in need.
The future of our community
Q. What excites you about the positive changes happening in our community?
I’ve worked at ACU for almost four years, which I realize for other people is not a very long time. However, in that short time, I’ve already seen so much change, not only with the credit union, but also society. These shifts are very encouraging as someone who immigrated to Canada and is a woman of colour.
I’m proud to say that I work for an organization that is an early adopter of diversity and inclusion and walks the talk. I look forward to the future, knowing that organizations like ACU will help us continue in that hopeful direction.
Q. Why would you encourage people to become an ACU member?
To me, being an ACU member is an investment in the place you live and your fellow neighbours.
In fact, I became a member of ACU before becoming an employee. What stood out when I was selecting a financial institution was ACU’s commitment to our province and knowing that our money goes towards supporting the community.
Q. What does “Money Doing More” mean to you?
“Money doing more” means your investments go further to support the causes and people around you.
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