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Emma Protsik feels lucky to be in a job she adores. But as the Roman philosopher Seneca observed, “Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.”
Seeking career experience as she pursued her bachelor’s degree in innovation in business finance, Ent Credit Union in Colorado Springs, Colo., popped up in her search. “It was the best thing to ever happen to me,” Protsik says.
She joined the $7.9 billion asset credit union in 2017 as a part-time member service representative (MSR) and discovered a love for the credit union mission and an emerging passion for financial wellness.
Now, as financial coaching program lead, Protsik puts that passion into practice every day. In addition to guiding members on their journey to financial health, she’s building out Ent’s program, training 15 MSRs to work with members, employees, and communities to further the credit union’s mission of improving financial well-being.
Once a pilot program is complete, she’ll train coaches in a full-scale launch in all of Ent’s 50 service centers.
Protsik is also pursuing an MBA with an emphasis in financial psychology and behavioral finance, a field that focuses on the “why” of financial decision-making.
For credit union’s looking to improve their financial wellness programs, Protsik’s advice is simple: Look beyond the basics.
“In my experience, most people know the generalities—save a portion of your income, live within your means, don’t take on unnecessary debt—so education alone is typically not enough,” she says. “How we interact with money as individuals goes deeper than knowing what’s right or wrong.
“Money beliefs are often unconscious, transgenerational, and embedded at a young age,” Protsik continues. “These beliefs drive behaviors around money and can be tricky to navigate. But once they’re recognized, mindsets can shift and positive changes result.”
Protsik is a founding member and treasurer of Women Empowered, one of Ent’s employee engagement groups. She’s also treasurer of the Pikes Peak Chapter of Credit Unions, which aims to increase community engagement and implement cooperative principles.
For all of her efforts, Protsik received Ent’s Culture in Practice Award, an employee-based program recognizing the fulfillment of four cultural roles: advocate, purpose-driven, trailblazer, and ethical professional.
Known for her intellectual curiosity, quiet reserve, and confident humility, Protsik cites members of Ent’s leadership team as her heroes: Director of Learning Innovation Marnie Gerkhardt and Senior Manager of Community Impact Bree Shellito.
“I am lucky to have these amazing and inspirational women in my life who have helped me both personally and professionally more than I can begin to explain,” Protsik says. “They both embody servant leadership.”