Chief Financial Officer, Polish National Credit Union; Age 39Jennifer Gallant’s interest in finance was sparked by a memorable business teacher in high school. The class was in accounting, however, and she didn’t see herself as the numbers-crunching type.
“I did two years of accounting in college, but I switched it up to do finance,” she said. “I like the analytical side; I have a lot of accounting experience, but I prefer analyzing numbers versus crunching them, and that’s what got me into finance.”
Gallant started her career as a teller at a local credit union before working her way up to CFO, later joining Polish National Credit Union in the same capacity. “I do asset and liability analysis, I oversee the budget, I approve and monitor all expenses, I do investing, I analyze the rates, and I supervise the accounting department,” she explained. “I’m a member of the executive management team; we all work together to run the credit union.”
She said she enjoys the challenge of analyzing the budget and making sure the credit union is operating within it — and, if not, determining why and taking steps to fix it. But she also enjoys mentoring high-school and college students who are interested in finance — in effect, paying forward what that business teacher did for her.
“We have a branch at Chicopee Comprehensive High School, and the tellers are high-school students, so we interact with a lot of students already,” she explained. “If we see potential there, or if someone expresses an interest in some area of the credit union, we’ll bring them on as a summer intern. It really helps show them the big picture of the credit-union industry.
“We’ve had some enthusiastic candidates go on to college to study finance, accounting, or business management,” she added. “I enjoy sharing my experiences with the interns, helping them figure out what they want to do. If that future is here, locally, that’s fantastic.”
Along with her full-time job, mentoring roles, and raising three children, Gallant also finds time to give back to the community through such organizations as Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen, where she serves as board member, finance committee member, and HR committee chair.
“I love the feeling I get from helping people,” she said. “I understand everyone leads a busy life these days, and it’s easy to let those things fall by the wayside, because you don’t have to do them. But if everyone had that mentality, who would do those things? I just think it’s important.”
— Joseph Bednar
Photo by Denise Smith Photography