I started in the banking industry in the early ’70s, when women did not typically possess management roles. Many of the male managers had the benefit of entering bank management training programs immediately after college. I was training many of these college graduates, despite not having a management role myself at the bank. Simultaneously, I was attending college at night to earn a business degree and juggling my time accordingly. It was with this hard-earned degree and additional training and experience that I climbed the ranks of the banking industry. I always tell my employees or others who are looking to enter into a new field or role to ask successful people what they did to get where they are—the answer may surprise you.
I think some of the best business advice I have received derived from a Dale Carnegie training course and his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Success evolves from building relationships. I try to lead by example, and I also believe completely in a philosophy that was best phrased by President Ronald Reagan: “There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
I’ve also learned that you must consider how the current state of the economy and politics will affect your job, business, and customers. Especially in our field, where we serve as business advisors to our clients, it is important to understand how businesses will be affected by policy and counsel your clients accordingly. As a consultant, I share pertinent information with my clients. I think this consultative strategy somewhat accounts for maintaining many of my business relationships for twenty years or more.
A good leader has a personal philosophy that makes her consistent and fair in her approach to management and decision-making ability. I learned from good managers, but I created my own style and did not imitate others. I think most people who have worked for me would say that I am fair, which is what I admire in leaders.
What does it take to succeed and stay competitive in your position/field?
Work harder than everyone else. Keep abreast of political and economic news that affects your industry and your clients; you need to see the big picture of how everything affects your customer.
Has discrimination affected you as a woman in the workplace? How did you deal with it?
I don’t feel like it has. I’m just an individual who worked hard, took classes, and did not hesitate to ask for what I wanted. I think anyone can excel with a certain work ethic and drive to succeed.