Investing in Others: Service to Others Drives Castro-Matukewicz

In a career that has come full circle from nonprofit work to a vice president position at one of the largest banks in the nation, one thing has remained a constant on Cristina Castro-Matukewicz’s resume — service to others.

It’s a mission that may be much larger when executed through Wells Fargo Bank where she is vice president of community relations, but one that’s no less targeted on the local community.

“I oversee all aspects of the community affairs and community relations,” she said. “Community relations is part of our brand identity, and it encompasses the Wells Fargo Foundation, the work that we do through employee engagement, our volunteer programs. On the community development side, we oversee a lot of compliance work and also reputation management.”

Community Service at Work

Castro-Matukewicz was named a vice president 10 years ago, but she has always provided integral leadership to Wells Fargo’s community relations over her 15 years with the bank. She said during that tenure, she has seen how much employees value the chance to participate in community service activities through work.

“I think with companies like Wells Fargo, [community service] has always been important and that’s why we, as a company, have been one of the early adopters of what is called CSR, corporate social responsibility,” she said. “That’s the umbrella under which my work is done. That has been important.’

While the importance of service hasn’t changed, the way that employees participate has.

“What has changed the most is the way that we do this program,” she said. “I will tell you, the baby boomer generation were good participants, but they were doing it in a different way. It was more about a sense of duty. Like, I have to do my part, I have to contribute to the United Way on the employee giving side. I have to volunteer to represent the company. What has changed with the newer generation is that they are doing it more out of a sense of personal fulfillment, not as a sense of duty. They are volunteering because they care about the cause they are supporting.”

Given this shift in priorities among employees, it was particularly difficult to have to cancel many of the company’s planned activities due to COVID-19.

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“Personal volunteering has been on hold since March of last year,” she said. “Because of COVID concerns, we had to put the well-being of our employees first and had to make those tough decisions. We know our nonprofit partners needed the help, but we have to think about the safety of our employees first. “But eventually, we were able to virtual volunteer. It’s not for everybody but quite honestly, in-person volunteering is not for everybody, either. It’s just different; personally, I volunteer virtually as much as I did in person.”

Nurturing Mentor Relationships

Castro-Matukewicz, who was a Midlands Business Journal 40 Under 40 honoree in 2006, has found another outlet for her desire to serve others, that being through one-on-one mentorship.

“One of the most fulfilling aspects of my professional career is to be able to formally or informally mentor others, particularly other women,” she said. “I have three or four people who I mentor internally and externally. They are all different relationships, but in all those cases, they came to me and asked for my help.

“I feel honored that they think I can be a mentor to them, but I would say it’s a mutual exchange because I learn as much as they do through the process. It’s amazing. They are brilliant young people who are doing amazing things and I learn a lot from them. And I hope that I am contributing to them with my input and perspective.”

Don’t Give Up

In those mentoring relationships, Castro-Matukewicz emphasized consistently on several elements of personal and professional success.

“One piece of advice that I have is definitely to find a workplace, an environment, in which you feel you can bring your whole self to work,” she said. “Find someplace where you don’t have to do that masking and change your personality on who you are to fit within the culture of the organization.

She also said it’s important to not give up, even when you have setbacks or don’t receive the promotion or transfer you applied for.

“Personally, I think the most important thing is don’t give up,” she said. “Never, never give up. Just do something else. Try something else, something different, but don’t give up. Don’t give up on your dreams.”