How long have you worked with First Option?
Over 20 years!
What is your role?
I’m a Member Services Officer, helping members with day to day enquiries, assisting them to build savings and achieve their goals like purchasing a car, refinancing mortgage loans or buying their first home.
On an average day at work – what do you do?
Provide assistance in processing transfers and card transactions, help members with Internet Banking and Mobile Banking support, welcome new members educating them on how to best use their new Pay|Bills|Save accounts and attached cards.
I help members work out their borrowing power then work closely with them to help them apply for a loan or refinance their existing mortgage. I also provide tips on how to pay off the loan sooner or save to buy their next property.
What is your background, in the banking industry and elsewhere?
I started my career in 1995 with the TAB as an HR Clerk; but I was quickly promoted to Executive Assistance. I worked in various departments (Finance, Auditing, Marketing, Sales) for periods from 2 weeks up to 6 months.
A call went out to work for the General Manager of TAB Staff and Agents Credit Union. I performed this role for 6 months then the position became a permanent one, so I applied and was successful.
My First Option journey has evolved from my first job as the Executive Assistant to the General Manager, I’ve also regularly assisted in marketing and website development. When I started my family I worked part-time and as my children grew up I came back full-time, working now in Business Development and Member Services.
In my early teens I sang the commercials for the first Clean Up Australia Day Campaign across the country. I was also in a Portuguese folk dancing group; dancing and singing every weekend for many years.
When I was 18 I travelled to Portugal alone to discover my family heritage. I spent eight months with my grandparents, my aunts, uncles and cousins. My parents joined me and we continued the family journey meeting our relatives in Spain and Brazil.
I love travelling, meeting people and discovering new places. I have been fortunate to travel a lot with my husband and my kids and we’ve visited more than 20 countries, so far…
You are quite literally the ‘voice of the bank’ having recently recorded our new phone messages, do our members recognise your voice when you talk to them?
Members have recognised my voice on the phone system and have provided very nice feedback.
Your cultural background is Portuguese, how does that heritage flavour your home life ?
I was born in Sydney to Portuguese migrants, growing up we spoke Portuguese and English at home. I met my Lebanese husband working at the TAB. Next month we celebrate 20 years of marriage and we have three boys. We incorporate our multiple cultures into the food we make, our music, culture and languages throughout our day to day lives.
You’re currently working remotely in Sydney, what have been the ups and downs of transitioning to working from home instead of going into our office every day.
Working from home took a bit of adjusting to, especially finding quiet spaces for the kids, my husband and myself to work from! But it has been enjoyable spending so much time together. We really benefit from being together.
There will soon be a new Sydney office for First Option Bank, is that going to be a challenge to adjust back?
Yes it will be a challenge to readapt. I have enjoyed working from home, being with my family and cutting out the travel times to and from work has been a real bonus.
What are you most looking forward to doing, socially, as lockdown eases?
Seeing my family and friends and travelling overseas again; one day!
First Option is a member-owned bank, how do you think that is reflected in the work you do?
My role is focused on providing exceptional customer service from the first point of contact through their becoming a member and continuing that quality of service throughout the member’s banking journey. We ensure their finances work to their best capacity for growth!
What advice would you give to members about calling us for help when they need it?
Have their member number ready and provide us with feedback to help us to always improve our service.