Arnessa Belin – Empathy First
We met Arnessa Belin when we crashed the crashers during the virtual GAC. We snuck in to their session and were blown away by Arnessa. Arnessa is someone you definitely need to watch in the credit union industry as she is passionate, ambitious, and just an overall amazing human. We were able to chat with Arnessa after she crashed the GAC and we hope you enjoy!
You’ve been in training, lending, member services, and are now you are leading the call center at BECU. Tell us about how these positions have helped shape your career and you personally through the years.
I feel blessed to have had multiple roles within BECU, and they have all impacted me in a different way. Being in the training department helped me to understand the importance of strategic thinking and planning, because there are so many details that must be considered at a macro level, to ensure that the end user gets the best experience possible.
Being in the lending department helped me to understand why financial literacy and improving the financial well-being of our members is so important. The Lending department is where I saw credit union advocacy firsthand as we intentionally choose to not profit off a member’s less than stellar credit history and we don’t charge excessive fees for our loans. At BECU, we even reward members for improving their credit by lowering their interest rates on loans!
As a Member Services representative, I saw the common financial issues people face every day, and it taught me to have great compassion and empathy. I became a supervisor in the Contact Center in 2020, and I believe that was divine timing. I was able to practice my compassion and empathy first with my employees and then coached them to have the same for the members they spoke to. Throughout the pandemic, compassion and empathy are key as we spoke to the millions of people who lost their jobs, their business, and their loved ones.
Talk about using all your experience to help the membership, what a way to keep perspective on what is important. Talk about your involvement in the YP space.
BECU’s YP group formed last year, and our events are geared toward professional development. Some of my favorite events have been our “Rock Your Profile” LinkedIn session, where we were given tips on how to amplify our LinkedIn profiles, our conversation with Renaldo Hardy embracing uncomfortable conversations about race and gender, and most recently our event focused on the importance of mentorship.
Alongside BECU YP group I am the co-chair of BECU’s Black Alliance Cooperative which we also formed in 2019. Our group is a professional network for Black identifying employees and allies, and my work with B.A.C. is something I am proud of. Some of our accomplishments include hosting a virtual event about Allyship, speaking with BECU’s Executive Management Team about the black employee experience, and amplifying historical events such as Black History Month and Juneteenth at the organizational level.
I am also a Cohort Lead for BECU’s Women Leadership Group, and this group is devoted to networking and professional development. This group has hosted several virtual events with powerful women and allies who speak to our experiences and provide insightful wisdom on how to be an authentic as we lead. I enjoy my cohort and building a space of safety for us to speak our truths and to root each other on.
Each group I’m apart of allows me to delve a bit deeper into my personality. B.A.C. allows me to disrupt the status quo and change narratives, WLG allows me to be a space of psychological safety, and YP allows me to focus on my professional development and professional network.
It is so important to be seen and noticed virtually and on LinkedIn now days, that is great that BECU is helping YP’s develop their brand. You are passionate about DEI which we love – how do you suggest YP’s get started on their DEI journey and ensure they take their credit union along with them?
My first suggestion would be to realize that you will get it wrong at some point. DEI is not a monolith, and neither are the marginalized communities that DEI efforts help you to learn. Actively listen to those in your circle, and outside of your circle, and hear their experiences, their feelings, their responses. Authentic, raw conversations are the first building blocks of DEI work, and conversations are free😊
If, after having the conversation, you want to learn more, I would search online for DEI resources. LinkedIn has specific DEI group you can join, and YouTube has some informative, short videos on DEI to help you understand some of the common terms used. To engage your credit union, I would suggest mentioning your desire for DEI efforts in employee surveys and in meetings with your leadership. Keep the conversations going!
Those are great suggestions! Thank you! You’ve been part of the credit union industry for almost 10 years – what is your favorite people helping people story?
In the Lending department, I spoke with a fairly new member who applied for an Auto Loan with BECU. As I reviewed the final details of their application, I noticed that they had a few credit cards with banks/retail stores. I asked the member if they knew about our BECU VISA and shared some of the features. The member decided to apply for a VISA, and they ended up being approved and their interest rate on their highest balance changed from 30% APR to 6.9% APR! When I calculated how much money and interest the member would save over just one year, they began to cry! Definitely my favorite story.
Such an amazing story. Changing our members lives for the better! You were selected to CRASH the 2021 Virtual GAC. Tell us your most impactful takeaways. What advice do you have for people who are timid to apply to Crash events?
Go CrashFam2021!! I just had to get that out😊 I could literally go on and on about this, but I would say my most impactful takeaways was the conversation with Andy Janning and the crasher group, where he shared about the purpose of the credit union movement and making sure we carry purpose in whatever role we are in. I also loved hearing from Jim Nussle about the future of credit unions, and to see him so excited about us crashers made me feel very special-we’re the future!
My advice for those of you who are timid, is to close your eyes and think about your first day at work. How excited you were, all the possibilities you thought of as you learned about your organization. THAT feeling is what I felt at the end of our crash event. I have New Hire energy in my 10th year, so just imagine how inspired you will be once you’re a part of this!
CRASHING truly is life and career changing, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I am very chill, I like to read used books and journal occasionally, and I love podcasts. I am constantly watching reruns of The Office, and I love buying clothes and headwraps!
Want to get to know Arnessa more, follow her on Insta - dimples_frames - and Clubhouse - arnessa.renee.
CUltivate is people helping people with our mission to spread the word, connect the people, and give an outlet to share your stories. Know someone in the industry we should interview? Drop us a line at CultivateYP@gmail.com