YWCA 30th Anniversary Leader: LIZ STEFFEN
Liz Steffen is the Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President of IT at Envista Credit Union where she has worked for over 25 years. Her main responsibilities include business strategy, financial analysis, process improvement, budgeting, risk analysis and mitigation, and compliance. Liz has a BA in Computer Information Systems from Friends University. She is a Certified Credit Union Executive, the highest certification awarded in the credit union industry and an Accredited ACH Professional.
Liz has been an active volunteer in the Shawnee Heights Community since 2003, serving on the Shawnee Heights Foundation, elementary & middle school PTO, Site Council, District Advisory Council and district budget advisory groups. Liz is currently the Treasurer for the Shawnee Heights Booster Club. In addition to volunteering in the school district, Liz serves on the YWCA of NE Kansas Board and the YWCA Finance and Administration Committee. She is a board member of Child Care Aware of Northeast Kansas and an active member of the American Business Women’s Association.
Liz has been a two-time nominee of the YWCA Women of Excellence Award, once nominated by her employer and once nominated by her peers on the Shawnee Heights Foundation. Liz is also a past recipient of the ToWN Chapter of ABWA Woman of the Year.
Liz and her husband Joe have two children, Alex (20) and Emma (15).
Who is a person that you considered as a role model early in your life? How and why does this person impact your life? Both my mom & my dad were my role models. My mother left her teaching career when she had children to raise my brother and me. As we got older, mom started to volunteer for various organizations and would sometimes bring me along to help when needed. And then there was my dad, a successful banker and well respected. I didn’t realize until I was answering this question that I am a product of what I considered the best of each of them.
How do you maintain you and your team's daily motivation and inspiration despite obstacles, pushback or setbacks? Humor, sarcasm, grace, understanding, communication and a positive attitude. We lift each other up and help each other maintain a positive perspective. One of the best things we have going for us is a team where we truly care about our success as a team and don’t compete to outdo each other.
How do you foster creative and innovative thinking within your organization? We all work together to share our thoughts, rather than being that complacent bobblehead dog in the back of a car. Everyone’s opinion matters. But this isn’t a Liz thing, this is an Envista thing. And I’m fortunate to get to work with such an awesome team.
What advice would you give a someone going into a leadership position for the first time? Get some thick skin and don’t take things personally. That’s true in leadership and in life. But you can learn so much and be such a better leader when you realize that not everyone sees things or hears things like you. Was the dress blue & black or white & gold? Did you hear Laurel when someone else heard Yanni? Like my Grandma always said, “this world would be pretty boring if we were all exactly alike.” There is an opportunity for learning & growth in every situation. You just have to look for it.
What is the most important characteristic that every leader should possess? There are many things that I think are important, but among the top is communication and honesty. These characteristics build trust, which is the cornerstone of any good relationship in my opinion.
Do you have a mentor? If so, what traits are you seeking in a mentor and why? I’ve been fortunate enough to have a couple of mentors. I look for someone who has the qualities that I admire, is well respected, honest, humble and cares about my success as much as their own.
What are you doing daily to ensure your growth and development continues as a leader? Keeping the trust and respect of my team is critical to my success as a leader. It doesn’t matter how much or how little I know if people don’t respect me. So I watch what others do. If I see behaviors that I think are negative or that others respond negatively to, I look inward to figure out if I exhibit those traits. And when I see qualities and traits in others that I admire, I try to copy those. For me, staying in tune with how I affect others helps me continue my development as a leader.