International Women’s Day 2024 – Blog


Maria Pulice
Maria Pulice – Americas Client Communications Manager – Customer Success, Temenos

Happy International Women’s Day 2024! This year’s theme is #InspireInclusion.  I am so excited to share with you my recent blog interview with Ellie Ayala-Rodriguez System Analyst, IS-Applications Dept., of Lake Trust Credit Union (LTCU). Based out of Michigan. This is my first blog interview with a female executive from a credit union. Thanks, Ellie, for being the first!

I really love getting to know different female executives in the tech and financial services fields. Most of the time it is the first time meeting them, so I truly appreciate them for opening up to me and giving me some insight into who they are during business hours and off the clock.  

With that, let’s learn about who is Ellie Ayala-Rodriguez?

She considers herself a free spirit! She loves to travel, explore new places and enjoys cooking for her family. Her foundation is her family.

Ellie says, “they are my biggest support and my biggest motivation.”

She is in a stage of her life where she finds great pleasure in the little things.

Tell us your origin story! Where were you born and raised? what was your education like?

I was born in Jalisco, Mexico and raised in Winters, California. I attended public school my whole life and at the age of 17 I dropped out of High School because I got pregnant with my daughter. A few months after I had her, I enrolled to get my GED.

I earned my General Associates Degree from Lansing Community College and Bachelor’s Degree from Michigan State University.

Career Journey:

How did you get started in the financial services / tech industries, and what motivated you to pursue a career at a credit union?

Before my position at LTCU I worked in the medical field for 14 years, then transitioned into a marketing position for a manufacturing company. Moving from the medical field where I worked directly with patients to working on computers was a very new endeavor for me. Lucky for me I LOVED IT! One of my Clifton strengths is Learner, so it was no surprise that the challenge and leadership opportunities I was presented to was very fulfilling to me.

Unfortunately, after having my third child, the company I worked for did not allow me to work from home. It was then that I made the decision to be a stay-at-home mom. A few months later, Covid happened, and EVERYONE was working from home. This was a hard pill to swallow as I had many thoughts of why my employer wouldn’t be flexible with me. I was a GREAT worker, I managed three websites and had a great business relationship with my co-workers, leaders, and vendors. I felt very defeated and questioned my intelligence.

Three years went by, and I was ready to start getting back into the workforce! I came across LTCU and I was hired as an MEA. I was overqualified, for this position but I made my intentions to pursue a career in IT very clear. For six months I worked really hard, took in extra tasks, got involved in a Financial Life Planning group and looked for ways to strengthen our footprint in providing FLP resources to our existing members. My passion in this effort showed and as soon as an opening came up in IS I quickly jumped on it and transitioned to the roll I now know and love.

Can you share some key milestones in your career journey within the credit union or financial sector?

I started at the contact center, assisting members. From there, I uncovered a need and created training to spread the word about FLP resources. I presented my ideas to our leadership team, and not only did I have everyone’s buy in, but I also had a few leaders asking to work with me as my vision aligned with some of the efforts they already wanted to tackle but didn’t have an implementation plan.

This was a BIG win for me. From here I was given the green light to put together the training, then next thing you know I had a class lined up to train. We started with training existing employees, to new employees. This idea that I had in my head, took off! And I couldn’t be happier. I learned later down the road that the CEO from the Financial Planning Committee was getting ready to offer me a job working with his team!

How do you prepare yourself for a challenging conversation?

I always come into a conversation very secure of myself, very confident and very open to growth. I let my problem solving, analytical mind show by asking questions, proposing solutions and never try to understand or speak on something I do not know. Being honest and transparent is very important when overcoming obstacles.

Professional Growth:

What steps have you taken to advance in your career within the credit union?

I am the first to ask for more work. I am the first to endeavor in learning new things and pushing myself to understand a concept or process in greater depth. I let my leaders know I am available to take more tasks on to support our team. 

Have you pursued any additional education or certifications to enhance your professional growth?

Not at the moment. I have done a lot of on-the-job training with my peers. I have thought about going back to school in the near future, and I know that when I am ready, I will have the support of my supervisor to see how the credit union can support me furthering my academic endeavor.

Mentorship and Support:

Have you had mentors or role models who have influenced your career path? How have they impacted your professional development? In your experience, how important is mentorship for women in the finance industry?

My boss Shannon Britton has played a key role in my professional development. She was the first to believe in me and continues to stand by my side on a daily basis. I know she is there to guide me, face challenges with me and support my professional growth.

Advice for Aspiring Women in Finance:

What advice would you give to women who are aspiring to build a successful career in finance, particularly within a credit union?

Make yourself stand out. Look for any little opportunity to showcase your skills and personality to leaders. Be passionate about what you do, I guarantee you, YOU WILL BE SEEN!

Are there any specific skills or qualities you believe are crucial for women in finance to succeed?

Yes, be organized! The finance industry is very fast paced! It is important to keep up with all of the moving pieces.

I was very happy to have had this opportunity to interview Ellie. I found her to be perfect for this year’s theme. She truly is inspiring and at the same time brings a different perspective and background.

Remember to Enjoy, Embrace, Empower!

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Maria Pulice
Maria Pulice – Americas Client Communications Manager - Customer Success, Temenos