ANGEL PHILLIPS and the late industrialist Henry Kaiser (who built the Hoover Dam and the famous Liberty ships of World War II) will never meet, but they share the same motto: “Find a need and fill it.”
When Phillips couldn’t afford day care for her children, for example, she started her own day-care business. It not only let her fill a need, it provided a perspective she would later bring to Reliant Federal Credit Union in Casper, Wyo.
“I love and care for people, and learned operating the day-care center that no two people are the same,” she says.
After working at a mortgage brokerage, Phillips joined Reliant Federal six years ago. She has been the director of marketing there since January.
Despite a title that makes her part of management, she confesses that being hands-on is an irresistible part of her nature. “When I’m walking through the lobby and see a backup in the teller line, I’ll jump in and open a station to lighten the load,” Phillips says. “The greatest asset in marketing is the people I work with. If I take care of them, they’ll take care of me.”
Case in point: At the credit union’s Douglas branch, staff wanted to set up a 5K run to benefit a local food bank. Phillips made sure branch employees bought into the event and became its chief marketers.
“I created ‘Champions,’ people I could call on to help me organize the run,” she says. “The event not only brought staff together, it let them get out of their routine and do something challenging and enjoyable.”
When a fellow employee introduced “Fred 2.0” to Reliant Federal, a book about a Colorado postal worker who made his job into something extraordinary, it clicked with Phillips.
“Fred did what he did not for the recognition but because it was the right thing to do,” she says. “We took things we learned from the book and started applying them to Reliant, including creating the ‘Fred of the Month’ award for going above and beyond.”
From that was born an eight-week mentoring program that helps new employees build confidence and skills.
And when the credit union revamped its organizational chart, Phillips expanded the mentoring program to include team-building skills for established employees. Now, “we go to Fred 2.0 and do exercises that correspond with chapter themes. Employees do team exercises and the creative juices start flowing.”
Her next mentoring program, which already has a waiting list, combines teaching both personal and team skills, she says. “I get a little emotional thinking about this. I’ve seen great results and positive changes in people from these programs. My happiness comes from making those around me happy."