I was mentored from the beginning of my life by a strong, independent-minded mother who taught me to take care of myself, go out, and get things done. Mom quit college to have kids but returned to school to get her bachelor’s degree while her three children were in school. She instilled in me a drive and focus that has served me well in every stage of my career.

After earning my master’s degree in education, I ran a school for teens in a psychiatric hospital. The experience was perfect management training. I learned how important it is to be consistent and direct – and today I urge my colleagues, and especially those I mentor, to do the same.

I transitioned from education to business through a management training program at Wells Fargo Bank. For the next twenty years, I worked my way up, from credit administration to divisional head. I learned about relationship management and business banking, which I loved because of the entrepreneurial spirit of the people whose businesses I helped to support.

I left Wells Fargo for an opportunity at a smaller bank and then moved to Bank of the West for a role that I believe truly fits my skills, knowledge, and interests. I’m involved in driving strategy, managing sales, and building new businesses.

From my perspective, success is all about ensuring you work with the right people. How you support them matters enormously. This support includes mentoring at every stage of someone’s career.

I’m touched when people who’ve worked for me in the past want to work with me again. They saw what I did as leadership and as making a difference in their careers. I saw it as mentoring and partnering. I believe mentoring is really a two-way street. The people you mentor are the people you turn to now and in the future.

Banking is still a male-dominated industry. Women in high positions are rare but I applaud what I see at Bank of the West in promoting and supporting women in key roles. No matter what obstacles you have to overcome, the advice I offer is simple: Don’t be afraid to be who you are or about what you have to offer. Don’t be afraid to share your opinions. Don’t be concerned so much with being right all the time – it’s more important to show that you are really thinking. That’s mentoring by example.