No one grows up wanting to work at a credit union, Amy Downs freely admits.
But that’s all right, says the 28-year veteran of $260 million asset Allegiance Credit Union, Oklahoma City, because “that just means it’s the credit union that finds the person.”
Credit unions certainly found Downs. She applied for a teller position at a Louisiana credit union to get out of the food service industry, and the rest is history.
“Right away, I was blown away with credit unions’ member-first philosophy. You can say I drank the Kool-Aid immediately,” says Downs, who’s now chief operations officer/senior vice president at Allegiance.
“When I was looking to move to Oklahoma City, all I wanted to do was work at a credit union,” she says. “I got a list from the league and sent a resumé to every single one.”
Downs was hired by the former Federal Employees Credit Union (now Allegiance) and was working in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building when it was bombed in April 1995.
She survived with injuries after spending more than six hours buried under rubble. Eighteen employees and more than 100 members of the credit union were among those who perished in the blast, however.
“The way credit unions rallied around us, and the community, is something I’ll never forget,” she says. “Even to this day, there are local credit unions that we’re technically in competition with but we’ll work together so long as it’s in a member’s best interest. That’s why we’re here.”
Downs says the most important things for an employee are a strong work ethic and a positive attitude.
“Be the first one in in the morning, and be there with a smile on your face,” she says. “When you’re asked to do something new, don’t say ‘It’s not in my job description’ or ‘How much will I get paid?’ Just do it.”