Although Nick Palen, Marine Credit Union (MCU) Senior Mortgage Lender, said there are perks to working remotely since the beginning of the pandemic, such as less driving and more time to get work done in-between clients, working at home at his “permanent folding table” can also lead to a loss of the “personal touch” that defines MCU as an organization. “Building a relationship is a lot tougher because sometimes you never see them,” he said. Nick explained that he makes up for that lack of personal contact by putting more work in afterwards to keep in contact with his partners.
Nick started at MCU five years ago and he said that part of the reason he has stayed is because of the culture at MCU. “They keep a small company atmosphere,” he said. “You can talk to the CEO or any manager. They have an open-door policy. It’s huge because you don’t get that in other same-size financials.”
“Community is everything,” Nick added. “You know everyone. MCU’s focus is a homey feeling.”
“They want you included in local fundraising,” Nick continued. “Bigger companies give national donations. We do it because we want to help out the people.” Nick said this makes him feel like he is personally making a difference in his community. “The fact that the company empowers us to visit the smaller communities shows they want to help everyone who needs it.” Working for, what Nick said is a “big company with a small-town feel,” helps him to feel they care about you.
That sense of community is strong within MCU’s organization as well. “Very rarely,” Nick said they are not able to provide services to a member. “We can call the underwriter – ‘how can we get the loan or put them on a plan for the future?’ We work with our underwriters directly,” he shared. “You don’t know what you don’t know,” he said. “It goes back to being able to call anyone and rely on their support. It’s super nice. Instead of “no means no.”
Nick was part of the group to brainstorm and come up with MCU’s core values of compassion, collaboration, commitment, and courage. He said he was asked what was important to him and what portrays MCU. “The management team cared enough to ask all levels of employees,” he said. “The culture here values every single employee.”
Backed by the core values inherent at MCU, going virtual, Nick added, “in all” has gone “very well” and said it has made him have to think “outside the box.” He said the community partners like it too and it’s become the new norm.
When not working, Nick enjoys being outdoors. He partakes in hunting, summer and ice fishing (although he did confide that it’s more like “glamping” or “glam ice fishing” with his enclosed trailer) … all with his partner Andraya.