Girl Banker In The Making: Lilly Niedermeier

Girl Banker In The Making: Lilly Niedermeier

Welcome back to one of my favorite blog series, ‘Girl Banker in the Making’! The purpose of this series is to highlight young women just getting their start in the banking industry as a means to motivate other young women to consider banking as a career path. The best part about ‘Girl Banker in the Making’ is that the post is authored by the young woman being highlighted in an effort to journal her own girl banker story. 

Lilly Niedermeier | Loan Processor | Focus Bank

My name is Lilly Niedermeier, and I am currently a loan processor at Focus Bank in Paragould, Arkansas. Paragould is located in Northeast Arkansas just northeast of Jonesboro, home of Arkansas State University (Go Redwolves!).   I have lived in this area my whole life. I graduated high school from Crowley’s Ridge Academy in 2014 and Arkansas State University in 2017 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Finance with an emphasis in Banking. While there, I met many professors such as Dr. David Kern who fueled my desire to pursue a career in the banking industry and was honored to receive the Group 1 Arkansas Bankers Association Scholarship and the Arkansas State University College of Business Finance/Banking Department Award.

Growing up I always loved organization, numbers, typing, and any kind of paper work. Perfect for banking, right? Nonetheless, I never considered a banking career. I tossed around several career ideas throughout my junior high and high school years. From Physical Therapist, to Nurse, to Teacher, the one thing I knew was that I wanted to help people.

During my Senior year at Crowley’s Ridge Academy, I worked at the school’s preschool doing after school care. I enjoyed working there for a few hours after school every other day, but I quickly realized I was not cut out to be a teacher. (My hat goes off to all the teachers out there! I admire you!) With graduation drawing closer, I decided that I would pursue a career in accounting. It was not something I was passionate about, more or less, I just thought it would be a good degree to have. I started looking for a job that pertained more to my degree. I was looking for a summer job as well as somewhere that I could continue to work part time throughout college. While working at the preschool, without realizing it, I made valuable connections with the parents of the students. The son of the Regional President of Focus Bank was attending the preschool at that time and after a few days (okay, maybe weeks), I worked up enough nerve to ask if they were hiring tellers. He was able to put me in touch with the teller supervisor and five days after graduation I started working at the bank as a part time teller. As I look back on that time in my life, I believe that is the first lesson in banking I learned, or more accurately one of the first life lessons I learned, which is the importance of networking. It is crucial in the banking industry and life in general to make connections and to build a strong network of piers around you.

During my college years, I worked as a part time teller and eventually full-time teller at Focus Bank. I fell in love with Focus Bank and the banking industry in general. The relationships I was building with my coworkers and the customers was unparalleled. After a year I was hooked! I knew that this was an industry I wanted to be in for a very long time. As I analyzed each role within the bank, I decided to pursue a career in community bank lending. After all, it combined my love of organization with helping people. Watching the lenders build relationships with customers and help them in many different ways was something special. I changed my major at Arkansas State to Finance/Banking and the rest is history…well, in the making.

In the Spring of 2016, my school advisor suggested that I do an internship. I reached out to the Regional Bank President and Senior Vice President at the location where I was currently working about doing an internship in the loan department. In late April of that year, I began my internship working two days a week as a loan processor. The internship confirmed my desire to pursue a career in lending. Being a part of helping someone buy their first car, first home, or grow their business, is very rewarding. When the internship came to an end in the fall, I was promoted to a full time loan processor. Taking on this new position and finishing my bachelor’s degree was challenging, but I had a wonderful support system at work and home. Once again, I learned a valuable life lesson, this time on stress and time management. I also got engaged and married in 2016. It was a busy year to say the least!

I graduated from Arkansas State University in May of 2017 and have continued working as a loan processor at Focus Bank since that time. I am blessed to work with a wonderful group of people and a Senior Vice President who invests time and energy into helping me grow my understanding and knowledge of lending and the banking industry as a whole. My future goals include pursuing a career in community bank lending and investing my time and energy into our local community to better it now and for future generations to come. I believe our community banks have such a vital role in the process of helping our communities grow and I am blessed to be in the industry.

Looking back on my past and forward to the future, I am forever grateful that my eighteen-year-old self mustered up enough courage to approach the bank President and I am grateful for the opportunity I was given to work at the bank. I would have never imagined that I would fall in love with the banking industry, which brings me to the quote by Nora Roberts. “If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.” I have seen this proven true time and time again. As women in banking, and young people in general, I believe it is so important to advocate for ourselves, and to make our intentions and goals known. If you don’t ever ask, then you will never know what could have been. I am truly excited to see what my future holds and what the future holds for all Girl Bankers.

Girl Banker in the Making: Alyssa Hermann

Girl Banker in the Making: Alyssa Hermann

Welcome back to one of my favorite blog series, ‘Girl Banker in the Making’! The purpose of this series is to highlight young women just getting their start in the banking industry as a means to motivate other young women to consider banking as a career path. The best part about ‘Girl Banker in the Making’ is that the post is authored by the young woman being highlighted in an effort to journal her own girl banker story. 

Alyssa Hermann | Commercial Lender | Presidential Bank

My name is Alyssa Hermann and I am a Commercial Lender at Presidential Bank in Bethesda, Maryland just outside of Washington, DC.

I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. I graduated from Saint Louis University with a BSBA in finance in 2013 and an MBA with an entrepreneurship concentration in 2014. As a Billiken, I had the chance to study abroad in Rome and Hong Kong, work in the Office of Admission and for the Institute of Private Business and serve as a member of Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity.

Throughout high school and undergrad my plan was to get involved with the local construction company that my grandfather started in 1972 and my dad was running at the time. I grew up around this business and worked there for seven summers during 2005 – 2012. I saw it as a great opportunity and was confident I could be successful in the male dominated business.

In the middle of my MBA program, my family decided that my dad would sell his interest in the business and exit the company. I had a front row seat to the challenging dynamics of family businesses while I worked to put “Plan B: Financial Advisor” in place.

After a financial advising internship followed by a year in an internal accounting position at a wealth management firm, I was recruited to fill a commercial credit analyst role at Parkside Financial Bank & Trust. Parkside is a community bank that was founded in 2008 and caters to the privately-held middle market commercial and industrial lending space. It was a privilege to begin my banking career surrounded by top talent and incredible mentors in an engaging culture of collaboration and transparency. I spent three years at Parkside and ultimately advanced into a Commercial Banking Officer position before relocating from St. Louis to Washington, DC in May 2018.

The DC market is heavily focused on real estate, government contracting, and non-profits compared to St. Louis which is more manufacturer, distributor, and service provider centric. My current focus in DC is continuing to learn the nuances of the market in an evolving banking climate while building out my local network.

Commercial lending was never promoted as a career path to me. I was fortunate to stumble into it and very quickly realized that it was the perfect fit for me. It gives me just the right balance of numbers and people, and it allows me the opportunity to work with businesses like the family construction company I grew up in. I love having the chance to look at a wide variety of industries. Even more, I enjoy building relationships with business leaders and working with them to structure financing that will help them achieve their goals. Serving as a strategic banking partner is exceptionally fulfilling, especially when I see the results in my local community.

While the industry is still male dominated, progress is being made toward inclusivity thanks in part to platforms like The Girl Banker. I am highly committed to the professional growth and development of young talent and women in the industry and would like to encourage anyone interested to reach out and connect.

Girl Banker In The Making: Brooklyn Bolton

Girl Banker In The Making: Brooklyn Bolton

Welcome to the new series, ‘Girl Banker in the Making’ where young women just starting their banking careers share their Girl Banker stories in their own words.

Girl Banker In the Making: Brooklyn Bolton | Teller, Community Spirit Bank
I have wanted to be a banker like my dad and granddaddy since I was a little girl. Most of my dad’s side of the family all work at Community Spirit Bank in Red Bay, Alabama and I always aspired to work there when I grew up. My name is Brooklyn Malorie Bolton and I am twenty years old. When I was 15, I started working for my dad, Brad Bolton, who is the President and CEO of Community Spirit Bank. I started out by filing papers for him and creating and organizing loan committee packets. Sometimes, I would fill in by answering phones and greeting customers as the receptionist. I came in after school and tried to make some extra money and gain experience in the real world while balancing the busy life of a high school student.

After graduating high school, I began attending Northwest-Shoals Community College full time and working part time as a teller. I had direct interactions with customers and built relationships with them. I witnessed first-hand the importance of community banking and what sets it apart from other businesses. I realized that we invest daily in the lives of our customers and I felt my role was to help them have a better day. Sometimes I would write motivational quotes or Bible verses on my customer’s receipts or money envelopes with the hopes they would be encouraged.

Brooklyn and her team members at the Community Spirit Bank’s 110th celebration

In addition to my interactions with customers, I was further interested in pursuing a career in banking after a lobbying trip to Washington, D.C. I had the opportunity to travel with my dad and a group of Alabama Bankers. I was fortunate to meet several bankers that all have a passion for community banking and they demonstrated to me why it is important to get involved in your state and national community banking associations to advocate the message of community banking. I also had the chance to meet all the Alabama delegation, including U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.

I graduated Magna Cum Laude from NW-SCC with an Associates in Science Degree and now am currently enrolled at Mississippi State University in Starkville, MS. I plan to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Business Marketing with a minor in Management. I am so excited to begin this new chapter in my life. However, I will miss my family, friends, bank family, and all my sweet customers. My goal is to come back to Community Spirit Bank when I graduate in 2020 and continue to pursue my banking career. I hope to be able to work in all areas of the bank to sharpen my skills and can carry on the rich tradition of honesty, integrity, and a hard work ethic, just like our current team members at CSB.

Brooklyn and her friends at NWSCC graduation

Girl Banker In The Making: Madelyn McConnell

Girl Banker In The Making: Madelyn McConnell

Welcome to the new series, ‘Girl Banker in the Making’ where young women just starting their banking careers share their Girl Banker stories in their own words.

Girl Banker In the Making: Madelyn McConnell | Teller, Grand Savings Bank
Student, friend, employee, daughter, and sister are all different roles I play. I live a busy, hectic life but I love the life I live. That’s all a girl can ask for, right? I once heard someone refer to a girl boss as a girl who has big dreams and is willing to work for them. A girl who is striving to give her best effort in everything she does and rises up with the help of those around her who are constantly pushing her to do better. To me, that’s the perfect definition of a girl boss. I could not be where I am now without the people around me supporting me and pushing me to do my best.

My name is Madelyn McConnell, but my friends and family know me as Maddy. I recently graduated from Bentonville West High School and I plan to attend the University of Arkansas in the fall to study business. I am currently an employee at Grand Savings Bank and work as a teller. The principle at Bentonville West, Mr. Guthrie, has always used two words to describe how he wants the students at Bentonville West to be: involved and engaged. I take pride in knowing that I was involved and engaged at Bentonville West and have been involved in the community. I was an active member in DECA, a competitive business club, and held three officer positions in addition to National Honors Society, the Student Advisory Board, and the freshmen mentor program. I graduated with high honors and took several Advanced Placement courses. I love my community and have served as a small group leader in my church’s elementary program, volunteered for special Olympic events, and was a part of a program to support local teen moms. Being involved in my community has helped me build many new relationships and I’ve acquired so many new life skills that will be beneficial for me in the long run.

Bentonville West Graduation 2018

My grandpa worked at Outdoor Cap and is a very professional, smart man. I had the opportunity to job shadow him once and was inspired to pursue a career in business. Initially, I had this big dream of being a Fashion Merchandising Major, then as I got exposed to what being a Fashion Merchandising major entailed and decided that wasn’t for me. I became exposed to more industries within business from DECA and started focusing and competing in the marketing category and loved it. That is what I wanted to do! I began taking more marketing classes and basic business classes in high school to begin getting a good foundation. In the middle of my junior year, I came across an amazing opportunity. My counselor at school had talked to the Market President at Grand Savings about hiring a high school student employee. In March 2018, I went to Grand Savings Bank, completely unaware that my name had been given to Mr. Tommy Coughlin as a potential hire. My intent for going was to ask for a sponsorship for DECA to compete at the National Competition in Anaheim, California. We began talking about the sponsorship and next thing I knew, the bank was calling wanting to interview me for a teller position.

Throughout the school year, I worked after school every day from 2pm-5pm and a few Saturdays a month. During the summer, I worked 20-30 hour weeks. I fell in love with the banking industry for many reasons but mainly because of the relationships. The people I work with are very uplifting and encouraging and make work a fun place to be, to the point that I looked forward to coming to work. Sometimes I would even come in earlier than scheduled. But not only did I enjoy my fellow employees, but also the customers. Building relationships and interacting with the customers brings me so much joy. I love getting to see a customer smile after we have satisfied their financial needs. Another reason I love working at the bank is that every day is a challenge. Being challenged is great because not only does it allow me to learn something new, but it also builds character by teaching me perseverance. I learn to tackle those challenges with maturity and responsibility and get to expand my knowledge of banking.

Maddie and a few of her Grand Savings Bank team members. #LifeIsGrand

Working at a bank has taught me two vital things. One is that communication is key. I must communicate well with the bank’s leaders and I must communicate on behalf of myself. For me to gain the most success, I have had to communicate to my leaders my plans and goals for the future to ensure that we are all on the same page. I also find that sticking up for myself has been important. If I have an idea that I think will benefit the bank or the team, I must stand up and share instead of waiting for someone to ask my opinion. Secondly, dedication is critical to being successful. As I worked at the bank during the summer, I had to make sacrifices and rearrange my priorities. Working hard towards my career will significantly help me in the long run and impact me in a substantial way. I had to keep that thought close when my friends asked me to go on beach vacations. Communication and dedication are essential.

As I stated before, I once heard someone refer to a girl boss as being a girl who has big dreams and is willing to work for them; striving to give her best effort in everything and rises with the help of those around her pushing her to do better. I aspire to be this girl boss. My big dream is to continue to excel in the banking industry and eventually move up the ladder. Hard work always pays off and I plan to do just that while listening to the other girl bankers that surround me to achieve my big dream. Alright, girl bankers on 3! 1…2…3…GIRL BANKERS!!

Girl Banker In The Making: Kendal Williams

Girl Banker In The Making: Kendal Williams

Welcome to the new series, ‘Girl Banker in the Making’ where young women just starting their banking careers share their Girl Banker stories in their own words.

Girl Banker In The Making: Kendal Williams | Loan Assistant, Riverside Bank

I have been exposed to the banking world my entire life. I have fond memories as a little girl making trips to the Bank of McCrory with my dad when he was president there. I loved making these trips with him and would “play” with the bank employees who were patient enough to occupy me while still doing their work. Looking back, I think that these moments impacted my future decision to want to be a leader in the banking industry.

I set my sights on being a banker back in elementary school. I found the numbers and people aspect of banking interesting. There’s no doubt that I looked up to my dad and enjoyed watching him do his job and help others. Over the years, I attended various Arkansas Bankers Association meetings with my dad including the Bank Management Seminar. I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to go to these meetings because they have truly allowed me to grow as a person. The networking opportunities have been endless as I have met some of the most intelligent, skilled bankers in the state who have opened my eyes to what banking is really about.

The Williams family at Disney World.

Having the opportunity to meet and get to know these bankers across the state from various financial institutions has given me even more of an incentive to have a future impact in the banking world through what I do in my own career. I have met several leaders in the Arkansas banking industry such as Mr. Wilks and Mrs. Susanna Marshall, Mr. Bill Holmes, Mr. Dave Dickson, and Mr. Bob Taylor, just to name a few. Because all of these leaders differ in the roles they play in the banking field (Arkansas State Bank Department, Arkansas Bankers Association, community banks), I have been able to learn a little bit more about how these different institutions have an impact on Arkansas banking. One of my biggest role models is Mrs. Cathy Owen, Chairman of Eagle Bank & Trust of Little Rock, AR. In fact, she was kind enough to allow me to job shadow her at her bank for a day, which gave me much insight on how the different parts of a bank work together to function as a whole. Not only did she teach me about banking terminology, but she always has shown me that it is very possible for a woman to run a bank in an industry where leadership roles have been very male-dominated. I think the absolute world of her and am so grateful to know her.

Currently, I am a student at Arkansas State University working on my Bachelor’s in finance degree with an emphasis in banking. My time at Arkansas State University thus far has allowed me to meet many wonderful educators whom I call friends as well, such as Dr. David Kern and Dr. Patricia Robertson. Getting to know my professors in the learning environment has opened up windows of opportunity for getting involved in academic organizations, such as Phi Beta Lambda. From there, I have had the opportunity to become the President of the Bankers Group at A-state. I also had the honor of receiving the Group One Arkansas Bankers Association scholarship. Being able to receive this award from those whom I have gotten to know and look up to through the years was extremely special.

I have worked at Riverwind Bank of Augusta, Arkansas for four years and have loved every minute of it. I have worked as a teller and in the loan department, which has given me experience in understanding how these jobs are important for a bank’s success. Customer interaction has given me experience in knowing how to communicate more effectively. I am blessed to get to work with some wonderful people at Riverwind Bank, and am thankful to Mr. Bill Patton, CEO, for giving me opportunities within the bank as well as serving a role model.

My future plans involve gaining as much experience in banking as I possibly can, and I believe working as a bank examiner for a while would give me a very in-depth understanding of how the different parts of a bank work together. I see myself working as an examiner for some time, and then working in an actual bank, probably as a loan officer. My ultimate long-term goal is to run a bank, and I am willing to do whatever it takes to get myself there.

I strongly believe that the future possibilities for women in the banking industry in the years to come are endless…the sky is the limit. Women are rising up more and more to leadership positions in banking. We see women becoming more dominant in these roles every year. I just hope that I can make a positive impact on the banking industry in the future through what I do, as my ultimate goal is to enrich the lives of others. I am truly so excited about the future and grateful for the opportunities I have encountered so far!