ACU Employee Spotlight: Getting to know Sara Rusak
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 ACU employee spotlight, we talk to Sara Rusak, Chief Digital and Operations Officer. As the leader of the ACU Innovation Division, which includes IT and Digital Delivery, Sara has ambitious goals for her team centred around discovering new solutions.
With over 20 years of experience in financial services and software, she has seen the industry advance through digital transformation and beyond. And with a personal set of values that align closely with ACU’s values, she sees her career as a way to shape an equitable future for employees, members and the community.
Keep reading to learn more about Sara’s career journey and her take on the future of our financial community.
Getting to know Sara Rusak:
Question (Q): How long have you worked at ACU?
Sara Rusak: I celebrated my 10-year anniversary with ACU this past July 2022.
Q. Describe a “day in the life” of your role.
There is so much variety between my days that it is difficult to describe just one “day in the life!”
That said, where I typically spend my time is as follows:
- With the leaders and teams in my division
- With project teams, talking about the vision for the project on the go, how the work is progressing, and how I can help support to remove any roadblocks or help achieve goals
- With my colleagues on the executive team, discussing ways to support goals across divisions
- With my peers at other credit unions, sharing insights and collaborating on the big initiatives that require cooperation across the system to move forward
- Continuously learning while reading articles or blogs, and listening to podcasts on my commute
Q. What is your favourite part of working at ACU?
I love the passion everyone shares for our vision, mission and values, and living those values daily through all aspects of our work. It’s amazing being part of a team that is always helping our members achieve their goals and dreams — and being part of business for good.
Q. What do diversity and inclusion mean to you?
I’m a strong believer that we get the best outcomes when we seek diversity of thought and experience. That is best achieved when we are proactively inclusive and invite others to the table to share their perspectives.
October is Women’s History Month, and highlights the achievements of strong women leaders. It also reminds us that there is more that can be accomplished together. We need to ask ourselves, ‘who is missing from this conversation?’ and ‘how can we seek to include additional perspectives?’.
Q. What’s a great financial tip you learned over the years that was a surprising help?
It’s so important to put money away in a separate savings account.
When I was younger and started making money babysitting or at my first job, I thought you could save money by avoiding spending all of the money in your main account. Somehow that was always a big challenge!
Once I learned to set up a regular automatic transfer out of my spending account and into my savings account, I noticed that the savings started to add up. It’s been many many years but that is still a great tip, and it’s one I’ve also taught my kids as they start to learn about personal finances.
Helping others kick-start their careers:
Q. How did you get started in the financial industry?
There are several bankers in my family: my grandmother worked as a teller and my mom was a loans officer at a bank. So I was encouraged at a young age to consider a path in the financial industry.
My first professional job was in customer service, working in a contact center for a bank. I enjoyed that role and had great mentors who helped me progress into investment advice and lending.
Q. How has your role evolved since you started?
After spending time working in banking, I actually took a pivot and worked for a software company that developed financial planning software for financial institutions. They hired me due to my background in banking, but I found a passion for technology and innovation.
When a Business Analyst role came up at ACU, I knew it would be a great fit to use my skills in financial services, software, projects, along with my passion for our communities and using business for good. Throughout my 10 years at ACU, I have held various roles in project management, IT, operations and innovation.
Q. What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
If you would like to have a similar career, follow your passion and learn as much as you can. It’s so important to know various areas of the business and what different people do in their roles. Getting to know your colleagues and spending time learning about their roles will provide you great perspective.
Q. Why would you encourage people to work at ACU in particular?
ACU is a special place with an inspiring mission — and the work that happens every day is aligned to bringing that vision to life. There are so many different roles and opportunities to bring different skill sets to add value to the organization, all while helping to do good in our communities.
The future of our community
Q. How have you seen members make improvements in their financial lives?
I’m excited to see how members have incorporated digital solutions into their daily banking — for example, checking their balances and setting up alerts to keep their banking and security top of mind. This is a great addition to the relationships that they have with their advisor and local branch, and can be a good regular check-in to stay on track of the goals they’ve set through advice from their advisor.
Q. Why would you encourage people to become an ACU member?
You have so many choices as to where to bank. Why not choose ACU where we have fantastic products, competitive rates and great advisors — all while supporting a local B Corp that does good in the community and the world. It’s a win-win.
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