A First Merchants Bank Employee Spotlight: Jelissa Oquendo

A First Merchants Bank Employee Spotlight: Jelissa Oquendo
By: Julia Demma Last Updated: April 28, 2020

Jelissa Oquendo, Banking Center Customer Service Manager for First Merchants Bank in Hammond, works hard to make a difference both within the walls of her office and in the community.

Oquendo oversees a team of four within the Hammond office, works with clients to help them achieve their financial goals, and is dedicated to keeping things running efficiently and smoothly at the bank.

“Every morning, I have a motivational pep talk with my team. Keeping them motivated is key!” Oquendo said. “We are truly the meaning of ‘teamwork makes the dream work.’ I enjoy helping them develop within their roles or as they transition into another. There’s nothing more motivating to me than seeing my teammates grow professionally.”

Regarding COVID-19, Oquendo has been putting in 110 percent as she works to best serve her clients during this uncertain and stressful financial time.

“Currently, I’m helping our customer service center manage calls during COVID-19. My days have been pretty busy, but my focus has always been delivering great service to my clients as well as my team,” she said.

Although these are hectic times, Oquendo’s main goal remains unchanged.

“I love that I can help people reach their financial goals whether they are short term or long term, especially during COVID-19. I appreciate that we are considered the frontline and are able to provide service to everyone during this time,” she said.

Oquendo said her favorite aspect of her job is welcoming new team members to the First Merchants Bank family as the company grows.

“Not only do I get the chance to help my clients and teammates, but I also get the opportunity to help during our bank mergers. It is one of my favorite things to do because I get to meet more bank employees and help instill them with passion and knowledge of our company,” she said.

At First Merchants Bank, employees are encouraged to get involved with local organizations and non-profits to volunteer their time. This is a big reason Oquendo knew First Merchants would be a great career fit for her. She serves on the Humane Indiana committee and is involved with Habitat for Humanity.

“At Humane Indiana, everything we do is for the safety and love for our local animals in the shelter and the wildlife center,” she said. “I help provide a voice for animals because they don’t have one themselves. Every animal that gets adopted into their ‘furever’ home is a win for me.”

Oquendo also spends time outside of the office presenting financial education classes to adults at local schools.

“I help provide adults with information on how they can achieve a goal, whether it is saving money to buy a home, saving money for their children, or just getting ahead so they don’t fall behind. This type of education is very important to me. I really take the time to show them that they can do it, and that I am here to help them out every single step of the way,” Oquendo said.

Oquendo is grateful to be a part of a company that supports her volunteer efforts.

“I love my job and company. My overall passion in life is helping animals, and I am blessed that First Merchants allows me to do that when I am helping Humane Indiana.”

In her free time, Oquendo enjoys spending time outside with her boyfriend and dog. She loves gardening, taking walks, camping, meditating, and singing.

Oquendo would like to thank her parents for instilling a strong work ethic in her at a young age and showing her the importance of being a go-getter.

“Growing up, my parents showed me nothing but how to work hard and love. I started working at the age of 16 and by the age of 22, I bought my first house with my boyfriend,” she said. “Anything is possible if you work for it! They showed me that I should be proud of who I am. Being a Latina woman, I know that my hard work is noticed, and I am making a difference in my community.”

Looking forward, Oquendo hopes to work toward getting involved behind the scenes with the First Merchants operations department.

“I love First Merchants and the people who work here. I know that there is further opportunity here, and I just have to keep working hard to achieve it!” she said.

To learn more about First Merchants Bank, visit https://www.firstmerchants.com/.

First Merchants Bank, Member FDIC