Take us back to the beginning of your career at First National.
DC: In 2007, I was an admin at a law firm, but it wasn’t the right environment for me. My cousin was working at First National, and told me about an opening for reception. I decided to apply. Amy Punzo, the Manager of Office Services, interviewed me and hired me right on the spot. I am so grateful she took a chance on me and gave me the opportunity. I spent two years at the front desk. Then I moved into customer service administration because I wanted to learn more about the back office and how we processed. After a year and a half, I moved over to Collections, and have been in that department ever since.
What was your first year like?
DC: February 2007 was a really exciting time in my life. I started at First National and I began dating my now husband. I really felt like I was moving into my adult life. When I joined First National, I knew instinctively that I was starting a career rather than just getting a job. In December of that year, I attended my first First National Christmas party. It was this swanky black tie event, and I had never attended anything like that before. It was really fun, but it was also a great opportunity to network with leaders and get to know people socially outside of the office.
What was your “I’m in” moment?
DC: Within my first year and a half working at the front desk, a manager approached me and told me that he noticed how I was working and that I should apply when an opportunity opened in his department. He felt I would be a real asset to his team. Ultimately, that opportunity never materialized, but the invitation made me feel seen and important. That experience gave me the confidence that I could pursue any opportunity in any department. If that manager saw me and noticed my work ethic and performance, there were other people that were seeing me too.
Describe some milestones in your career.
DC: After leaving my role at reception, I moved into customer service because I wanted to really learn how mortgages worked. I knew I needed a deeper knowledge base to be able to advance in the company. I networked a lot and did job shadowing whenever I had the chance. Collections really intrigued me. There is a misconception of what Collections really does. We help people keep their homes, rather than take their homes away from them. That purpose aligned with my morals. I found my place, my voice and my confidence in Collections.
What stamp have you put on the business?
DC: I’ve lead by example. As a manager, there is nothing I would ask others to do that I wouldn’t do myself. I know when it’s time to grind and get the job done. But I also know when it’s time to have fun. Joining social committees and attending events have definitely helped to make work more fun.
What are you most proud of in your career?
DC: I am most proud of myself. I learned from some great leaders and I use those skills to coach and mentor my team members. My leadership and work ethic has had a positive impact on my team’s success. In 2021, we reduced our arrears stats to their lowest levels ever. And we did that collectively as a team. It is even more impressive when you consider the pandemic. I literally had thousands of emails in my inbox in those early months of the pandemic, and now we’ve achieved our lowest arrears stats. Through my leadership as well, we’ve gained efficiencies in the department and implemented more effective ways of communicating with customers. The Collections team is the best it has ever been. There is nothing I’m more proud of.
Any favourite memories?
DC: I’ve really loved my time with the Residential Administration social committee. Building the escape room was definitely a highlight. We put a lot of research and work into it. People really responded to it. It built up a lot of hype and attracted people from other departments too. It was exciting to be a part of that, and I have never had as much fun at work. It was 100% worth all the sweat that went into it.
How do you feel empowered as a woman at First National?
DC: My gender has never had anything to do with my success or ability to advance. I have always been treated fairly and felt empowered to be myself. I’ve never had to change my personality or be anything other than exactly who I am.
What advice would you share with people growing their careers at First National?
DC: Follow my lead. Learn everything you can and work your tail off. Meet everyone and get curious. Ask people about what they do and what they like about it. You never know what you’ll learn about someone or something. I had misconception about Collections. Through networking, I learned things about that department I didn’t know, and those insights changed my whole outlook. I realized that it was the place for me. It is also important to take advantage of cross training and job shadowing. You never know what may spike your interest and where you can grow.
Any final thoughts?
DC: I miss my First National family so much. I can’t wait to get back into the office so I can stop at people’s desks and catch up. We’ve hired so many new people during the pandemic. I want meet and get know everyone. I’m ready to get right back into it.