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Home » A Q&A With Women’s History Month Honoree, Frances Kaufmann

A Q&A With Women’s History Month Honoree, Frances Kaufmann

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Women's History month

Maps Credit Union was started on June 6, 1935, when a handful of teachers held an organizational meeting at what was then called Salem Senior High School. It was just one year after the Federal Credit Union Act became law.

Back then, board meetings were held in a high school classroom and day to day business was conducted out of the board members’ kitchens and living rooms. Deposits were kept in a teacher’s desk drawer before the whole operation was moved to then treasurer Harry Johnson’s kitchen at 2810 South 12th Street.

The way we manage our deposits has obviously changed since the days when most of the banking was done out of Harry Johnson’s home kitchen. Today, Maps is regulated by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and deposits are protected by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF). Members can now have their checks deposited automatically and transfer funds easily without stepping foot into a branch. We’re also living in a digital age when members can pay their bills online, swipe their debit cards almost anywhere, and do their banking in the palm of their hand with a mobile device. For our final Women’s History Month profile, we’re getting to know a person who plays a major role in making sure all of those transactions are safe and efficient, Frances Kaufmann, our Director of Payment Services.

Kaufmann is like the stage manager behind the curtain who leads her team to keep everything involved with payment methods (from debit card swipes and ATM withdrawals to wire transfers and online bill payments) running smoothly. Her work not only protects Maps from legal, strategic, operational, compliance, and liquidity risks, it also makes sure our members’ money is always safe and easily accessible. We asked her a few questions about her leadership style and what inspires her to stay motivated.

Maps: What motivated you to become a leader in your industry?

Kaufmann: What motivates me are difficult challenges. Also telling me that I can’t do something will surely inspire me to persevere through any challenge. When you put everything you have into a problem, there’s always a way to solve it even if that wasn’t your original plan. I also enjoy empowering women to be their best. Having someone who is willing to show you the ropes, mentor you, or just provide you with encouragement can go a long way to building self-confidence.

Maps: Have you drawn professional inspiration from other women? Tell us about someone personally or professionally who has inspired you.

Kaufmann: My mom has always been my favorite female. We lived a very modest life and she raised 6 children on her own with a limited education. We never went hungry and we always had clothes for school but we didn’t get to have any extracurricular activities. She always provided support and encouragement and told us to just always do our best.  If we wanted something we had to work for it. I learned at a very young age that I would need to determine the path I wanted my life to take.

Maps: What motivates you when things get tough?

Kaufmann: I have a strong desire to be successful and I also enjoy helping others and empowering my staff. There are times when your team needs extra support and I relish the opportunity to reach out and provide guidance. The idea that I might provide a solution to someone’s problem is what motivates me to do a good job. I enjoy looking for ways to improve on efficiency. My motto is “work smarter, not harder”.

Maps: What does good team leadership look like to you?

Kaufmann: Being a good leader means “walking the talk”. Being willing to take on any task presented. I wouldn’t ask someone to do something I wasn’t willing to do myself. Leadership also means knowing when to take a step back and let your people take the reins. You can be there to support them but allow them to find their way.

Maps: What advice would you give the next generation of female leaders?

Kaufmann: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Learn as much as you can in your field. Be willing to drive your own learning, don’t wait for someone to tell you what you should learn. You have to be your own advocate for reaching your growth potential.

 If you missed them, check out the rest of our Women’s History Month Q&As with Chief Operations Officer, Rachel Pross, Maps Community Foundation Executive Director, Kim Hanson, VP of Commercial Services, Jenn Winegar, and Director of Mortgage Lending, Tracy Holstege. We are honored to have all of these amazing leaders on our team.

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