Melissa Ott
Melissa Ott

CFO values members

'I began to realize that it was so much more than the numbers.'

October 5, 2016

“Do your best at whatever job you have,” Melissa Ott’s parents always told her.

She took that advice to heart.

Melissa Ott

Click to enlarge. Melissa Ott (center) volunteers with CU administration team members, Executive Assistant Jennifer McAlister (left) and Chief Operations Officer Annette Thames, on a recent International CU Day to serve free lunches to individuals and families in Baton Rouge, La.

In 2000, she began part-time in the file room at Pelican State Credit Union in Baton Rouge, La., while studying accounting.

Recently, Ott became the chief financial officer (CFO), responsible for the institution’s $269 million in assets.

“I always wondered what value I would find in doing accounting," she says. "I actually started my college life debating whether I should study psychology or physical therapy. I wasn’t sure which direction I should go, but I knew that either way, I could help people.

"As I progressed in college, I realized that my comfort zone was in the numbers,” Ott continues. “As I grew in this role in the credit union, I began to realize that it was so much more than the numbers.

"Maintaining a healthy balance sheet meant that we could grow the credit union, reach more members, employ more people, reward more people—both members and employees—and really make a difference.”

Pelican State takes pride in educating members. The credit union focuses on financial literacy, employs six certified credit counselors, and sees life-changing results because of it, Ott says.

Further, employees demonstrate community service and kindness through a program the credit union calls the “Beak Squad.” The squad works together to raise money for charity.

Although she’s quick to shine a light on colleagues, Ott does a lot of heavy lifting: As the CFO she oversees accounting and finance, marketing and business development, human resources, risk management and compliance, and member solutions (collections department).

“It’s challenging every day,” Ott says. “But I consider it a blessing to work with a great team.”