Now living in the Des Moines, Iowa area, Erica Plaza grew up on the South Side of Chicago surrounded by lots of family. “I grew up with my cousins next door,” she shared. “We were all born one year apart. There were five or six of us around our same age group. I am very family oriented with traditional parents.” Erica explained that her family all came to Chicago from Zacatecas, Mexico with her paternal grandfather. He was able to get all the brothers and sisters there, her mother and her mother’s nine siblings. “That’s where we all came from,” Erica continued. “Some are still in Chicago, Wisconsin and Texas. We all still keep in touch. We all, at least once a year, get together. We are a very close family,” Erica added with a beautiful smile.
Erica explained she came to the Des Moines area, where she now lives with her husband Joel (Big Junior) and son Joel (Baby Junior), when one of her uncles moved to the area in 2008. Although hesitant at first, being 22 years-old and knowing her lifestyle would change, Erica said she felt there was a lot of opportunities for her and her family in the Des Moines area. And … she now “loves it.”
“My parents were not risk takers,” Erica explained. “They had stable jobs and are creatures of habit.” She continued to say, though, that when the company her mom worked for started “going downhill,” the family took a leap of faith and made the move together.
“It has been great. I love it here,” she said. “I can’t imagine what life would be like otherwise. There is a lot of violence now. A lot has changed in Chicago.”
Along with living in Iowa, Erica shared that her career plan wasn’t always to be in banking. “I was going into nursing,” she said but added that she felt she was too empathetic, and the job would have been too much for her … seeing people suffer. “I didn’t know what to get into,” she added. “My mom said, ‘Why don’t you try this?” and Erica applied for a job at the bank where her family got their mortgage from. “I’ve been in banking ever since,” she said.
Although a bit apprehensive in the beginning thinking it might be a “tough job” and that it was all new to her, Erica told herself, “Someone has to do it.”
“I fell in love with it,” she continued. “I fell in love with working with members and helping them achieve their financial goals.”
Erica loved her work and yet was always interested in working from home. “I am a mother of a 12-year-old,” Erica said with another big smile. “He makes me proud. I’m a proud baseball mom. He’s really passionate about the sport and will play the whole weekend. He loves it. He can’t get enough of it. I make sure I am able to provide that for him,” Erica continued. “He was always such a great baby. He made motherhood easy for me.”
When she was given the opportunity to work remotely from home at MCU, Erica said it “changed everything.” She shared that at the time she made the move to MCU almost a year ago, her husband was dealing with some health issues and it made it so much easier for her to support him during that time. “I can’t believe how happy I am working remotely,” she commented.
Erica said she feels that customer service has always came easy for her. “I was always empathetic. When I was young, I was that positive person. I always wanted to see something positive.”
When asked where she gets her empathetic nature, Erica didn’t hesitate and said it was from her mom. “My mom and I are very close. She is very sweet and compassionate,” Erica shared. When her brother was born, they’re 10 years apart, Erica’s mom told her, “I never want to see you fight with your brother. I always want to see you loving each other.”
Erica shows so much love for her family. Being a first generation bilingual in her family, Erica shared that she helped her parents understand English and complete documents when she was young. “I helped translate documents for my dad for citizenship in 1990. I recorded them into a Walkman, and he would listen to them. That’s how he got his citizenship,” she explained.
Erica shared that not everyone in her family is as concerned about keeping traditions alive, but she said, “My husband and I are both bilingual. We share traditional values. I want my son to be the same with his cousins and have those values and traditions.”
Erica serves as an outbound consumer loan officer for MCU. She shared that she remembers feeling “like a robot” going to work in the bank prior to MCU. “I started asking myself where I am needed the most and still be able to work with members and help them to achieve their financial goals. MCU’s core values speak to me … compassion and communication. I’m just really, really happy to be here.
“I know there are only three Spanish speaking consumer loan officers at MCU. I want to help the Hispanic market,” she added, “and assist them with all their needs and educate them on all of our products and services. Being bilingual, when I make a connection with a member, they are so appreciative. We are helping them achieve their goals.”
“I am where I have to be, career-wise,” Erica continued. “It is my calling to be here. Patience is my virtue. I do have a lot of patience. I always make members feel it’s okay for them to take their time and I am always thanked for my patience.”
“I’m so glad I’m here,” Erica commented. “I thank my recruiter for the opportunity to be here because times are different. He saw it in me that I would be a good fit for this role.” And, MCU, she said gives her the work/life balance she had been wanting. “I work twice as hard to not let him down and reach my goals. That’s how I feel I can show my appreciation to him,” she added. “I love everything we stand for and am excited for our future.”