Having been in the banking world for many years, it was a smooth and easy transition for Debby Dukes when she stepped into the role of Business Development Specialist at REGIONAL federal credit union just about three years ago.
"I've been doing the business development specialist role, which entails networking, meeting new business owners, sending referrals, and trying to build new relationships with people in the business world," Dukes said.
Building those relationships is one of her favorite parts of her line of work. A typical day on the job includes meeting up and creating appointments with business owners to show how the credit union can be a partner. When she's not with current and potential members, she can be found at gatherings such as chamber commerce meetings, networking with others in the area to help bring the "Region" to REGIONAL.
Turning those leads into members and further deepening the relationships is the other half of the coin that makes Dukes exceptionally happy to be doing her work.
"I like being able to help people who are just starting new businesses. I get so much satisfaction from helping them. Also, watching these businesses grow and prosper financially is one of my favorite parts, as it is satisfying that I helped them with their dream of owning a business.
"Just recently, I've helped somebody get started in commercial real estate," Dukes said. "He wanted to buy a commercial building and rent it out. The member only had experience on the residential side; however, he wanted to expand into the commercial area, so I was able to help him - I referred him to a commercial realtor. We then met on how I would structure the loan and then discussed some of the situations he needs to plan for in the future. It was a multi-million dollar deal, so I helped him secure financing and connected him with others in that space to help him how to handle all his leases. Today, he's still renting it out, and he's doing very well."
Dukes came to REGIONAL when she came across a job posting online. A couple of clicks and interviews later, she was brought to the team and now can't imagine working elsewhere. She enjoys that REGIONAL is very focused on the members they serve above all else, appreciates her place of work, and shares similar values as herself.
"I love the people; I love the local decision-making. I love where I work - it's a lot less stressful than working for a bank. The people at REGIONAL care about relationships, and I appreciate it. An example of the team putting the relationship first is that if I have a new member who is not ready to make a move or doesn't qualify, they believe it's important to stick with them, and so do I. It's not about REGIONAL; it is about the business owner and what is good for them. Then, when they are ready, REGIONAL will be too."
That persistence then works out for everyone in the long run.
"When I work with a business partner, I think it benefits the business owner and their employees. I say that because I typically can work with the employees as well, improving their situation by giving them access to our credit rebuilder products, reducing loan payments, shortening the term of an existing loan, or just getting them a little more streamlined with their finances." Dukes said.
In her free time, Dukes can still be seen out and about in the Region cheering on her two kids, ages 11 and 14, at their various sporting events. After a long day of networking and being her kids' number one fan, a favorite way to unwind includes a nice dinner with friends out on the town.
For more information on REGIONAL federal credit union, visit its website at regionalfcu.org.