ACU Employee Spotlight: Getting to know Nicole Lavallee
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 Nicole Lavallee, Branch Manager at the ACU Harrow location.
After a successful summer internship during an Indigenous internship program, Nicole Lavallee was offered a full-time position that would put her into the spotlight at ACU’s Harrow Branch. As the Branch Manager, Nicole is working alongside an energetic team that she leads and coaches to help members and their community get more from their day-to-day banking.
Nicole is also a very proud Métis woman and loves being a part of ACU’s Indigenous Leadership Circle, which is a group of hard-working, dedicated Indigenous leaders who work together to provide ACU employees with knowledge, awareness and resources to support our Indigenous communities.
We learn more about Nicole’s financial advice for members — and for those who might want to follow her footsteps in the financial industry. We also learn more about her volunteer experience, Métis crafting and — roller derby! All of which she enthusiastically recommends for anyone looking for career development opportunities, a fun creative outlet or a sport with a social conscience.
Getting to know Nicole Lavallee:
Question (Q): How long have you worked at ACU?
I started at ACU as the Branch Manager at the Harrow location in April 2019.
Q. What is your favourite part of working at ACU?
My favourite part is the people I work with, and especially the members I meet every day. We have such a great team of employees who work so well together, and we all have the same goal of helping members any way they can.
The best part of my day is hearing stories from our members about how our employees have enriched their lives. Seeing a member’s eyes beam while they share their story is something I never get tired of!
Q. What’s a great financial tip you learned over the years that was a surprising help?
I tell everyone to make themselves a budget and include all the things you “need” outside of regular bills — such as groceries, gas and hobbies. This shows a better picture of how much money you “should” have at the end of the month, and it’s a great opportunity to re-evaluate how you spend your money.
Most people don’t realize how much they spend on take-out, fancy coffee or other non-essentials until they do a budget!
Q. What’s a fun fact about yourself that most people wouldn’t know?
I love doing all kinds of crafts — crocheting, quilting, sewing and, most recently, Métis beading. I joined a Métis beading circle earlier this year and quickly became enamoured with creating beaded earrings.
It’s incredibly therapeutic and so good for my mental and spiritual health. I love it!
I also played roller derby in the Winnipeg Roller Derby League for one year, and it was the most amazing sport I have ever played. The WRDL did an amazing job at using their platform to educate their fans about the 2SLGBTQQA+ community and women’s resource centers by holding informational booths, book and feminine hygiene drives, as well as fundraising bouts.
Helping others kickstart their careers:
Q. How did you get started in the financial industry?
I went to Red River College for my Business Administration Diploma and found an advertisement for an Indigenous internship program at a financial institution for a summer position. I ended up getting the job and was rehired as a full-time employee once I graduated from college.
Q. How has your role evolved since you started?
When I first started in the financial industry, coaching was driven by results related to numbers/dollars, which makes for a very direct and unforgiving approach.
However, over time, we’ve learned to focus on behaviours, attitudes and ongoing learning. This approach allows me to coach to each individual’s strengths and help them utilize those strengths with their members. Members deserve to be treated as a person that is valued regardless of the size of their bank accounts.
Q. What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
Get involved! Volunteer for committees and lead initiatives whenever you can. The experience you gain by working with diverse groups of people in your community or on a board of directors will expose you to leadership.
Learn the difference between managing and leading. Be the person others want to work with and learn from. I’m super passionate about leading by example, and these activities have helped me develop skills that I would not have learned had I not ventured out of my day job.
The future of our community
Q. What excites you about the positive changes happening in our community?
Since the beginning of COVID-19, each community has been affected differently, but seeing how generous people are towards those communities that were hit the hardest is amazing.
Whether it was restaurants donating food, feminine hygiene product drives or dream donuts — Winnipeg has stepped up to help anyone and everyone they can!
Q. Why would you encourage people to become an ACU member?
Becoming an ACU member is so much more than having a mortgage or savings account here. Once you are a member, you are now part of an organization that prides itself on diversity, inclusion and serving the underserved.
As an ACU member, you are now part of the solution to make our communities stronger.
Q. What does “Money doing more” mean to you?
I love this tagline! It tells our members that we value people more than profit.
Being part of ACU means that your money is being reinvested into the community you grew up in, the one you live in now or where your children or grandchildren will thrive.
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