16:41 PM

Placek Selected for ‘Centris Up’ Leadership Program

Bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Bellevue University are helping Omaha native Becky Placek to combine her head for numbers and heart for people in a rewarding and fulfilling career and life path.

Placek, 32, whose childhood goal was to be a nurse, is a branch manager for Centris Federal Credit Union, serving members and helping other staff members be more successful. She also volunteers time and professional expertise serving on the Board of Directors of RESPECT, a nonprofit organization providing educational programming to prevent bullying and other abusive behaviors.

Placek’s story may resonate with many Bellevue University students and alumni whose journeys to a degree began at some other college or university. After graduating from Gross Catholic High School in 2006, she completed a year of nursing school at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, then returned to Omaha and earned an associate’s degree from Metropolitan Community College, including general education core course prerequisites for a bachelor’s degree.

After another semester of healthcare courses at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, Placek decided to join the workforce as a part-time Teller at Centris in 2009. A promotion to a Branch/Financial Services Representative followed in 2010, prompting her to complete a B.S. in Business degree at Bellevue University while continuing to work full-time, earning back-to-back “President’s Sales and Service Awards” as her Centris branch’s number 1 sales producer in 2011-12 and 2012-13.

After graduating, Placek took three MBA courses before switching to the University’s M.S. in Management (MSM) degree program in 2013. “I realized the MBA was not for me. It was a quantitative program, and I enjoyed the more qualitative, people-oriented courses,” she said. “My counselor suggested the MSM might be a better fit.”

Placek, who was promoted to a Lead Services Representative position at Centris in 2014, completed the MSM program in 2016, taking one or two courses per term. “I wanted to be able to give my full attention to my work and studies and not overwhelm myself,” she explained. “I love education, and I tell people that of all my education experiences since pre-school, I learned more that I have been able to use and apply, from my master’s degree. It helped prepare me to be a better leader when I came into the branch manager role.”

In 2016, when an Administrative Project Associate job offer came from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, a nationally recognized regional healthcare provider, Placek decided to give a healthcare career one more try. “I still liked wellness and healthcare, so I accepted the job to combine it with business, but it wasn’t what I anticipated,” she recalled, returning to the financial sector when her current, branch manager, position opened in 2018. “I enjoy being in the finance area. It enables me to help and educate people in financial matters, and it is an opportunity to help others be more successful in their careers.”

In 2018, shortly after rejoining Centris, Placek got involved with RESPECT www.respect2all.org on the recommendation of a former work colleague and mentor who had served on the nonprofit’s Board. After meeting the organization’s Founder & Executive Director, Patricia Newman, Ph.D., and learning more about its educational programming, which includes staging presentations and dramatizations on bullying and abuse-related topics for Iowa and Nebraska school children, she was invited to join RESPECT’s Board and serve on its Finance Committee. “I just wanted to make a difference in peoples’ lives regarding bullying, trying to provide a better atmosphere that doesn’t allow any form of bullying, especially with social media being so prevalent these days,” she explained. “There’s a lot of cyber bullying, even with younger kids who really put each other down sometimes. It’s a cause I have a passion for.”

Placek continues to advocate education within her sphere of influence. “I have no regrets. I tell people that if they have the ability to do a master’s program, to do it. It takes a lot of time, drive, and discipline, while working full-time. But it was the best decision I could have ever made.”

Recently, Placek was one of 25 Centris employees selected by company leaders for a new 10-month management and leadership development program offered in partnership with Bellevue University’s Corporate Learning Solutions unit. Titled “Centris Up,” the program provides four hours of professional and skill development training each month, adding value for the employees, the company, and members. “I think it’s going to be a great program that will help us grow more in our roles,” Placek said.