In both her professional and personal life, Alissa Sykes has always focused her internal lens on improving efficiency. As vice president of lending at Sunmark Federal Credit Union in Latham, N.Y., Sykes’ responsibilities include overseeing all aspects of lending, including mortgages, home equity loans, consumer and business loans, loan servicing and collections.

“I love learning and trying new things,” Sykes said. “A title doesn’t make a leader. I look for people who are willing to push out of their comfort zone and go against the grain in a collaborative way.”

For Sykes, nothing is more empowering than building knowledge and understanding beyond the confines of a specific area of expertise. She said it’s important to take the time to invest in yourself, and recalls a time when her request to attend a leadership conference in California was denied because her credit union couldn’t afford to send her. Skyes admits that at first, she took it personally.

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