Carly Appel, Marine Credit Union (MCU) Director of Branch Service Operations, is originally from the Green Bay, Wisconsin area and still lives, happily, in her childhood neighborhood … now with her husband Jason, her 10-year-old daughter Celia, her eight-year-old son Henry, and their family cat John Snow. Carly said she feels “so fortunate” to be a part of MCU. “My team is so inspiring. Every day I get emails explaining how they have helped people in the community and have the biggest heart. It’s what feeds my soul … how we are helping people in the community. It makes me feel good about the work that I’m doing every day.”
Carly’s day to day responsibilities include managing MCU’s regional service managers who cover MCU’s 19 branch locations. Most of her day is spent listening and talking to people engaging her team, problem solving and setting expectations … “all around serving our members,” she explained.
As a “service leader,” Carly said that one of her priorities is to give her team the tools they need so they “can handle whatever walks in the (branch) doors.” She explained that sometimes there are complicated issues such as a death in a member’s family and it’s her job to make sure they have staff on site who can handle those situations and make sure that the office is functioning as it should. Simply put … to make sure “we do everything we can to help the members – every day.”
As a result of a lot of transitioning and other unexpected staffing issues due to the Covid pandemic, Carly shared that MCU branches went from hiring two people a month to two people every week. Part of that hiring process now includes an interview and a job shadow at the local branch. “They get to meet the team and go behind the teller line. The team meets the candidate. Candidates have been so glad to get to do that. We get a lot of great feedback,” she added regarding job shadowing as part of the interview process. She explained it relieves a lot of anxiety and adds to the employee experience even before candidates get hired to work in a branch.
“People who are really successful in our branches get a lot of meaning by helping other people,” Carly continued. “A lot of our members are one paycheck away from financial ruin. They may not be sophisticated and need additional financial help. Life can be stressful. It takes a special person to be able to deescalate and have a ton of empathy and listen to find out what the root cause is of what is going on with a member. If you visit any (MCU) branch, that is who you will meet,” she added.
Carly’s professional career began in banking. “Banks are driven to meet sales goals. In banking, recognition comes from praise, money and incentive pay,” At MCU, however, Carly explained that their employees are “driven by the feeling they helped someone that day … that they added value to someone’s life,” she explained. “That is 90 percent of the people we have working in our branches.”
She continued to say that it isn’t always easy; that some of the interactions are with members who are struggling, but she said, “my team has so much empathy. At banks, they tell customers to move on if they are not credit worthy. At MCU … we really want to help. That is the heartbeat of our team. They take every person and try to find a way to help.”
Carly graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay with a degree in environmental science. “Industrial pollution control,” she said wasn’t “how life went.” Sixteen years ago, Carly got a job as a teller at Wells Fargo and has been working in the field ever since. Last year a previous co-worker recommended her for her current position at MCU. Coming out of banking to MCU, Carly said, “is so much more aligned with who I am.”
At her previous job, her role was working with customers who have $250,000 or more of investible assets before even working with them. “I didn’t connect with that role,” she said. What she had connected with, previously working in a socially and racially diverse population, was a lot about the hardships of immigrants … “men working in slaughterhouses, blood splattered on their faces, coming in to cash their paychecks and sending 80 percent of that money back home to their families.”
Carly said she has always been a “champion for the underdogs. I grew up with a single mom, visited my dad in prison. We were poor.” She said there were struggles, but she was always trying to do the right thing to be a better person. “I want to help.”