Alaska state of mind
‘If you really work hard and roll up your sleeves you can create opportunity for yourself.’
The state of Alaska has a legacy of offering opportunity for those willing to earn it, and Elizabeth Pavlas proudly holds true to that tradition.
“This is the kind of place where if you really work hard and roll up your sleeves you can create opportunity for yourself,” says Pavlas. “We have a good, diverse, working environment up here.”
While Pavlas is proud of her Alaskan roots, she’s also familiar with the U.S. mainland. As executive director of retail financial services at $7.6 billion Alaska USA Federal Credit Union in Anchorage, Alaska, she’s on the road a lot visiting Alaska USA Federal branches in four states. She says there’s really not a typical day in her position.
“We’ve got a 24/7/365 member-service shop, and we do it all by ourselves,” Pavlas says. “We don’t outsource any of it. For us it’s really about creating a seamless member experience.”
That member experience requires nothing less than a digital transformation for both Alaska USA Federal and its members. “We’re taking card portfolios, products, and services and thinking about them in a way that fits with that digital transformation,” she says. “It’s not just a card or a checking account anymore, it’s about money movement and creating convenience. We’re not just eliminating steps in the process, we’re enhancing value.”
Pavlas oversees branch and call center operations, payments, and products. Collaboration is critical in her role, she says. Stephanie Maxell, vice president of digital channels at Alaska USA Federal, says that Pavlas is nothing less than inspiring in her role.
“She involves her teams in collaboration to help us understand cultural change and engagement,” Maxwell says. “That has a ripple effect on members and other employees.”
Pavlas says her top priority is that there’s communication among her teams “so we’re easily able to collaborate rather than worrying about whose getting credit for getting the job done.”
At the same time, she wants those working with her to be happy in their careers. “I want people to feel passionate about what they’re doing every day,” Pavlas says.
She found that passion in credit unions when she came to Alaska USA Federal from advertising 11 years ago. “The values that credit unions have in making sure members come first in our business decisions are incredibly important to what we do on a day-to-day basis,” she says. “I find it very fulfilling.”