By Angela Barbosa
At 18, she wanted to be a flight attendant. Her love for historical things and travelling added being a travel guide to her bucket list of possible exciting careers, including being a New Yorker and running the New York or the Boston marathons. But it was already at age 16 that her adventure in a completely different industry opened the doors to what would become her professional journey.
Olindina Maria Francisco-Pereira, or Dina, as many know her, of Union Savings Bank, a local community bank established in 1866, found her passion for working with customers not far away from home.
“I was 16 years old and one month, so on March 25th, 1985, I walked through the door of the Union Savings Bank main office.”
“There was a program at the bank at the time called the management trainee program. A previous president by the name of John Kline, whom I admired very much, put me into a new position. He gave me my assistant vice president title, and from there is when I was kind of starting on my job cycle. That would have been close to 10 years after having been at the bank,” she explained.
In those 10 years, Dina graduated from WestConn with a degree in business administration in the early 1990s.
Another turning point in Dina’s life occurred when she met her husband, José Pereira, and all “the stars lined up.” The couple had two sons, Samuel, who is now 12, and Daniel, 10.
Around 1994, Dina took on a vice-president role as a product manager at Union Savings. “I did that for a few years, and managed our first call center. I started our first call center here at the bank.” The center was an important part in the process of eliminating the long lines of customers that needed assistance.
“Customers were redirected to the center to have their questions answered, to free up the branch personnel to deal with [other] customers.”
I have the perfect job for me right now,” explains Dina about her position as an assistant vice president community relation specialist. “It’s my opportunity in a business format, to be philanthropic with the bank’s funds, and the bank’s time. How lucky am I to be able to do this as a representative of a bank that is so well known within our community, and within our diverse customer base, especially in Danbury.
After 30 years, what else could Dina bring to her job? “Granted, the bank is celebrating 150 years of existence. I think I bring something to the table here every day, but how can I expand my circle? What else? How can I reinvent myself? How blessed are we that we are provided the mindset and the health to be able to go through these cycles and still come out of them with a smile.”
Having had the opportunity to be exposed to many things in life made transition a common place for Dina.
“I come from very humble beginnings. When I went back home to my father-in-law in a village, I would wash dishes outside in a bowl with water, and I was okay with that, and I’m okay with being at a five star in Lisbon.”
“Don’t let obstacles or yourself stand in your own way. If there’s any inspiration to people…if there’s a thought or a dream that pops into your head that’s a feasible one, do it. At least research it enough that you can say, ‘Yes, I have the resources,’ or, ‘Let me find the resources to get it done.’”