When April Young and Maleia Brown enter a room, people stop and take notice. Their bright smiles and cheerful personalities light up a room before they say anything.
Both raised in the Winston-Salem metro area, they didn’t know each other until Brown started working at Piedmont Advantage Credit Union five years ago as a part-time teller. Five years ago, Young had been with Piedmont Advantage for 16 years and knew the ropes within the branch network and across multiple departments.
A colleague of Young told her she needed to visit the team of new hires, because her “twin” was there, referring to Brown. Young wasted no time visiting the team and immediately connected with Brown. As Brown reflects on that day, “April has been my mentor since day one.”
Today, Brown and Young are branch managers in Winston-Salem with Brown at the Advantage Way branch and Young, the University branch. Both attribute Piedmont Advantage’s leadership for recognizing and cultivating their individuality and desires to make a difference in the workplace and within the communities where they live, work and play.
Maleia Brown: Heart over Mind
Brown became branch supervisor in 2019, then branch manager in March 2021. When asked how she likes being a branch manager, without hesitation, she responded with “I love it”; yet admits, “At first, it was hard to choose heart over mind,” when coaching some of her more cautious teammates or finding financial solutions for members, who aren’t accustomed to asking for help.
Brown learned first-hand Piedmont Advantage’s culture puts employees in a position to serve or lead a more satisfying life. “Following your heart isn’t discouraged,” said Brown.
“Now in management, I’ve come to rely on this culture to follow my heart more often than not. I do my research so that I can ask the right questions to offer guidance for my teammates and solutions for members. While it is ultimately their choice to accept this guidance or pick a solution, being in a position to make a difference keeps me coming back every day,” she said.
“When I’ve a made a difference, I can see it in a teammate’s or member’s facial expression. Now, that’s really cool and the best feeling.”
Outside of work, family is Brown’s priority. “Family is everything,” said Brown.
Brown comes from a large family with traditions.
- Her great grandfather had 11 children and held community cookouts each year. “He wanted to give back as much as he could. This tradition continues today.”
- Brown’s mother is an avid photographer, teaching Brown the importance of capturing memories. Brown put this lesson to work by capturing her uncle’s love for motorcycle racing, which led to other racing motorcyclists to take notice of her photos. Brown is a professional photographer because of her passion to keep her family’s traditions relevant.
Brown also coaches cheerleading with her mom. What’s noteworthy about this is her mentor, April Young, is known at Piedmont Advantage as “the cheerleader.”
April Young: The Cheerleader
“April. April. April.” April Young began her career at Piedmont Advantage on April 17, 2001, the day after her birthday on April 16. Over the last 21 years, Young has been a teller and member services manager, which oversaw the credit union’s call center and financial service officers. She also worked in collections and e-Commerce prior to going back into the branch network as a lead teller then branch manager, the position she holds today.
In collections, Young learned when members had the unexpected happen, causing them to struggle to make loan payments, as long as they communicated with her or others in the department, “the collections team would find a way to help while staying within the boundaries.”
Since then, Young believes communication and the ability to observe are keys to both personal and professional success. “Effective communication is a building block to trust; and the ability to observe how people deliver and receive this communication gives me the insight to focus on the uniqueness of each teammate and member,” said Young.
For example, with her branch teammates, Young developed a playbook, similar to what a football coach would use. She uses this playbook as a way to build their self-esteem, which requires an atmosphere of trust and mutual understanding. As Young puts it, “My goal is to coach, not manage.”
This goal has led Young to become more known throughout the credit union as “the cheerleader,” with her high energy and positive attitude combined with a great ability to lead as a coach.
When Young isn’t working, she is enjoying the outdoors. Several days a week, prior to work, she will go to the park to walk and swing. “Being one with nature with no outside distractions is the best way to start the day,” she said.
On the weekends, April is either spending time with her grandchildren or longing to get in a round of golf. She hopes to be a golf coach someday.
Piedmont Advantage’s Vice President of Strategic Services Sandy Milton commends Brown and Young for their leadership.
“They both love life and approach each day with enthusiasm and possibilities. They constantly work to improve their emotional intelligence and know that a strong team culture is the foundation for achieving success,” said Milton.
For opportunities to work with Brown, Young or within other areas of Piedmont Advantage, visit PACU.com/Careers.