Fun With Numbers

'She’s remarkably cool under pressure.'

October 07, 2013
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For management, numbers and accounting
can be a boring part of the job.
? anks to Arlene Bernard, that’s not the case at
XCEL Federal Credit Union in Bloom? eld, N.J.
Bernard has served as the credit union’s chief
? nancial o? cer only about a year and a half. But she’s
already having a big impact and quickly earning the
respect of senior leadership.
“Normally, it’s a pretty boring department,” says
Tom Quigley, XCEL Federal’s director of marketing.
“She explains the ? nancials with such passion that we
all actually care about accounting.”
So much so that Bernard would be an expert at the
Jeopardy category “Fun with Numbers,” Quigley says.
“She loves accounting and all things numbers,” he
says.
Previously, Bernard served for 16 years as CEO of
Saint Vincent’s Employees Federal Credit Union in
New York, which merged with another institution.
Since coming to XCEL Federal, Bernard has had a
lot on her plate, including:
• Dealing with the a? ermath of an employee embezzlement;
• Incorporating three new staff members in a
department of four;
• Handling some di? cult NCUA guidelines; and
• Working with many technology e? orts.
? e credit union is ahead of most similar-sized
institutions technology-wise, says Quigley.
XCEL Federal drives its own ATMs , o? ers a mobile
app loaded with extras, and is starting a wholly owned
credit union service organization.
“All this means a lot of work for her,” says Quigley.
“But she’s remarkably cool under pressure and handles
the mundane job of accounting with grace and dignity.
“She could be the MVP here,” he continues. “She’s
been our most valuable employee.”
Bernard has accomplished a lot in a short time at
XCEL Federal, Quigley says. She has improved and
ensured timely vendor payments, streamlined the
entire accounting department, boosted morale, and
skillfully managed the credit union’s relationship with
regulators.
“Oh, and she’s a pleasure to work with,” Quigley
says.
She’s dedicated, motivated, and compassionate, he
adds, as well as down-to-earth—basically a great coworker
to have on your side.
“She is smarter than me, but she doesn’t let on,”
Quigley jokes.For management, numbers and accounting
can be a boring part of the job.
? anks to Arlene Bernard, that’s not the case at
XCEL Federal Credit Union in Bloom? eld, N.J.
Bernard has served as the credit union’s chief
? nancial o? cer only about a year and a half. But she’s
already having a big impact and quickly earning the
respect of senior leadership.
“Normally, it’s a pretty boring department,” says
Tom Quigley, XCEL Federal’s director of marketing.
“She explains the ? nancials with such passion that we
all actually care about accounting.”
So much so that Bernard would be an expert at the
Jeopardy category “Fun with Numbers,” Quigley says.
“She loves accounting and all things numbers,” he
says.
Previously, Bernard served for 16 years as CEO of
Saint Vincent’s Employees Federal Credit Union in
New York, which merged with another institution.
Since coming to XCEL Federal, Bernard has had a
lot on her plate, including:
• Dealing with the a? ermath of an employee embezzlement;
• Incorporating three new staff members in a
department of four;
• Handling some di? cult NCUA guidelines; and
• Working with many technology e? orts.
? e credit union is ahead of most similar-sized
institutions technology-wise, says Quigley.
XCEL Federal drives its own ATMs , o? ers a mobile
app loaded with extras, and is starting a wholly owned
credit union service organization.
“All this means a lot of work for her,” says Quigley.
“But she’s remarkably cool under pressure and handles
the mundane job of accounting with grace and dignity.
“She could be the MVP here,” he continues. “She’s
been our most valuable employee.”
Bernard has accomplished a lot in a short time at
XCEL Federal, Quigley says. She has improved and
ensured timely vendor payments, streamlined the
entire accounting department, boosted morale, and
skillfully managed the credit union’s relationship with
regulators.
“Oh, and she’s a pleasure to work with,” Quigley
says.
She’s dedicated, motivated, and compassionate, he
adds, as well as down-to-earth—basically a great coworker
to have on your side.
“She is smarter than me, but she doesn’t let on,”

For management, numbers and accounting can be a boring part of the job.

Thanks to Arlene Bernard, that’s not the case at XCEL Federal Credit Union in Bloomfeld, N.J.

Bernard has served as the credit union’s chief financial officer only about a year and a half. But she’s already having a big impact and quickly earning the respect of senior leadership.

“Normally, it’s a pretty boring department,” says Tom Quigley, XCEL Federal’s director of marketing. “She explains the financials with such passion that we all actually care about accounting.”

So much so that Bernard would be an expert at the Jeopardy category “Fun with Numbers,” Quigley says. “She loves accounting and all things numbers,” he says.

Previously, Bernard served for 16 years as CEO of Saint Vincent’s Employees Federal Credit Union in New York, which merged with another institution. Since coming to XCEL Federal, Bernard has had a lot on her plate, including:

Dealing with the aftermath of an employee embezzlement;

Incorporating three new staff members in a department of four;

Handling some difficult NCUA guidelines; and

Working with many technology efforts.

The credit union is ahead of most similar-sized institutions technology-wise, says Quigley.

XCEL Federal drives its own ATMs, offers a mobile app loaded with extras, and is starting a wholly owned credit union service organization.

“All this means a lot of work for her,” says Quigley. “But she’s remarkably cool under pressure and handles the mundane job of accounting with grace and dignity.

“She could be the MVP here,” he continues. “She’s been our most valuable employee.”

Bernard has accomplished a lot in a short time at XCEL Federal, Quigley says. She has improved and ensured timely vendor payments, streamlined the entire accounting department, boosted morale, and skillfully managed the credit union’s relationship with regulators.

“Oh, and she’s a pleasure to work with,” Quigley says. She’s dedicated, motivated, and compassionate, he adds, as well as down-to-earth—basically a great coworker to have on your side.

“She is smarter than me, but she doesn’t let on,” Quigley jokes.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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