Employee Spotlight: Elaine Russo

Find out a little more about our first lady of finance, Elaine Russo...

Quick Team Member Facts 

Title:  Finance Manager

Year Started at Elite: 2002

Education:  BS Elmhurst College Business/Urban Studies ‘82 (double major and Urban Studies is like PoliSci); MBA in Business ‘08, MHRM (human resource management) ‘13 Keller Graduate School; CBAP from UIC 

Any unique hobbies, talents, skills, experiences, etc.: 

  • Knitting
  • Quilting
  • Cooking
  • Singing
  • Baking for the soldiers

How did you get into EMI/testing?

Not testing...behind the scenes.  Funny thing is I did start my 1st semester in college in an engineering program……yeah.  2nd semester was in the business program!!

What's the most rewarding aspect of working at Elite?

I love that I can wear many hats.  Being the finance manager is nice but I also get to dabble in HR; I have donned my Oktoberfest dress on occasion, Christmas parties and summer events…..we truly are an extended family and that feels nice.

What's your proudest moment so far?

There are a few moments but one that sticks out in my mind is getting my first MBA and having my parents in the stands.  Before I finished the second one my dad passed; the second one was in HR management and my dad was in HR his whole career.

Another big one was finishing the Komen 3 day breast cancer walk…60 miles in 3 days.  I never thought I could do it; not the fundraising or the walking.  Friends and family were so generous I made my financial goal and the walking was hard, fun, tiring, exhilarating!  Finishing the race and seeing Kathy at the finish line made me realize I really was done!  Tears flowed; the feeling of accomplishment was overwhelming during the closing ceremonies when each walker took off one shoe and held it up as a sign we made it.

What would you consider to be your passion outside of work? How did you get started in it? Any advice for anyone looking to try this activity?

I am a foodie….born and raised. I love finding new vegetables/fruit in season and growing my herbs each summer. I have gotten proficient in being a container grower as living in a townhome there are rules about planting a garden.

I got started cooking at my grandmother’s side.  When my brothers would go to scout camp I went to grandma camp.  It is where I learned to experiment with spices…no measuring; using my senses to cook, smell….taste…true food porn!  My grandmother grew up on a farm in Rhode Island where they lived off the land; raised their animals for slaughter and food for the rest of the year and lived off the land, preserving vegetables and fruit in jars and freezers.  It is how I learned to make spaghetti ‘gravy’ from scratch and know how to make Italian sausage from scratch too!  Grandma and I would watch cooking shows on PBS (way before Food Network came to be) whether I was sitting with her or on the phone with her we would talk about what the chefs were doing/making.

If someone wanted to know more about cooking find a store that does frequent demos (usually free) or classes that can be relatively inexpensive.  Look for farmers markets and ask questions….people love to talk about their passion of growing.  I have learned tips for cooking items I had never seen before.  Don’t be afraid to try.  At farmers markets you can find produce, local raised meats (no antibiotics, growth hormones, etc.), oils and vinegars……..sorry, I get carried away because it is so exciting to me!

Anything that customers/colleagues would find surprising about you?

Hmmm…..that I used to dance ballet (on pointe) ; I had to learn to play the accordion before I could play the organ (I don’t play instruments anymore); I am working on a cookbook.

If you had a personal motto, what would it be?

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift from God….that is why we call it the present.  We have to be in the here and now and enjoy each moment we are given. 

If you could be paid in something other than money, what would you choose?

Bartering would be fun so I would choose fruits and veggies in season.  I wonder what I could trade it for?!  I wonder if the mortgage company would accept payment that way