Mission Driven CFO

Mission Driven CFO

Attracted to the bright lights and big opportunities he thought were available at what he describes as a “monster university,” Justin Houle enrolled at the University of Minnesota directly out of high school. He quickly recognized he felt more like a number than an individual and knew it wasn’t the right fit for him.

Minneapolis College was a known entity for Justin Houle having grown up near Hiawatha and 38th and attending South High School. After his experience at the University of Minnesota, he pivoted and enrolled in 2010 and earned his Associate of Arts degree. He then transferred to the University of Minnesota, Morris to take advantage of free tuition offered for Native Americans. Unfortunately, a life altering car crash suddenly halted his plans, causing him to drop out of school and return home to face the road to recovery.

A Path to Vice President and CFO

Considering the myriad options available to him following his recovery, Houle decided to return to Minneapolis College, this time to focus on accounting. While earning his degree, he also worked as a laborer in the construction industry. It was during this time Houle knew he wanted to transition to a more meaningful and rewarding career. With each passing day, it was evident that the choice to attend Minneapolis College was the correct option.

He commuted to school using the light rail, studied on campus with friends, even joined a basketball league with his sister who also attended Minneapolis College. Another benefit was the ability to make lasting connections amongst the faculty and staff on campus. In particular, he noted how Jennifer Stauffer gave him the tools and resources he needed to be successful in his academic career. “She truly understands her craft and was able to give me the information in a clear, concise manner. Honestly, she made every course easy to understand,” Houle stated while discussing the many reasons attending Minneapolis College was so beneficial.

After earning a second two-year degree, Houle transferred to Bemidji State University and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. After graduation, he went directly into their MBA program and graduated with honors, cum laude, in 2021.

“Throughout my academic career, I found myself preparing for the next step in my journey,” said Houle, who worked full-time while he attended college. “I obtained my first job in accounting while I was studying at Minneapolis College. I focused on always trying new things. Even if I didn’t feel ready, I just went for it. I recommend others do the same.”

Houle’s can-do attitude and willingness to try every role in the field of accounting at a range of organizations paid off. Now the Vice President and CFO of Heartland Credit Union he feels valued in an industry focused on helping members get what they need. “Credit unions improve the financial lives of their members, building relationships based on trust, engagement, and shared financial success,” said Houle, who felt a similar sense of camaraderie at Minneapolis College. “When our members are successful financially, the whole community feels it.”

Contributing to Community

Houle is committed to giving back to his community. Now an active alum, he continues to stay involved with Minneapolis College. He’s been found packing school supplies for the children of student parents, volunteering at new student orientation events, and serving as a mentor to a budding accounting student in a six-month mentorship program that connects alum with current students. Houle noted the student he mentored was working as a cashier while studying and now holds a successful role in accounting.

Houle serves as a board member for NeighborWorks Home Partners, an organization with a mission of empowering individuals and communities by helping people buy, fix, and keep their homes. He is also on the board for the Twin Cities Chapter of Credit Unions, which provides professionals and volunteers opportunities to network and connect with credit unions in their geographic areas. Encouraging young professionals who work in credit unions, Houle is also part of the advisory group for The Crew.

Currently, Houle resides in New Brighton with his girlfriend and their two cats. In his spare time, he enjoys playing basketball, golfing, and can also be found cheering on the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Minnesota Twins.

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