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Girl Banker of the Week: Scarlett Sieber

Girl Banker of the Week: Scarlett Sieber

As women in banking, it is important that we lift each other up and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. The entire purpose of the Girl Banker blog is to do just that! The Girl Banker of the Week series serves as a way to highlight Girl Bankers everywhere by telling their stories and motivating and encouraging other women in banking. It also is a great way for women in banking to connect! Read below about this week’s Girl Banker of the Week!

Scarlett Sieber | Innovation Thought Leader, FinTech Influencer, International Speaker
If you’re an avid follower of the Girl Banker you likely have picked up on the fact that I love to connect with bankers in the digital space and thanks to Twitter, I have met bankers from all walks of life that I otherwise would have never known. Scarlett Sieber is one of those bankers. Last Spring, my pal and Girl Banker Phenomenon, Jill Castilla, CEO of Citizens Bank of Edmond, in Edmond, Oklahoma, mentioned Scarlett during a conversation about women in banking making waves. “She’s a rising star in the fintech world and has become one of my mentors,” Jill told me. “You two really should connect.” When Jill Castilla tells you to connect with someone, you connect with them! Fast forward to The Financial Brand Forum 2018 in Vegas last May, and we actually got to meet in real life when she was a breakout session presenter on the topic of “Transforming Financial Services: Accelerating Your Innovation Program”.

Scarlett’s girl banker story takes a different turn from the stories I have shared on the blog thus far. What I find most interesting about her is the experience she has under her belt as a “millennial” and how her role as a fintech minded banker could inspire many other women considering similar routes in banking. Unless you have been hiding under a rock or stuck in the “that’s how we have always done it” mindset, fintech is a major force changing big banks and community banks alike. If your bank isn’t working on a fintech strategy, you might already left behind. Here is her story.

Girl Banker Story
After studying abroad in China in college, Scarlett knew that she wanted to pursue a career where she was not only good at what she did but was passionate about it just the same. This led her to join the visualization tech startup, Infomous, Inc. where she served as Chief Operating Officer and Co-founder. Their clients include The London Olympics, Super Bowl XLVII, NFL Films, The Economist, Entertainment Weekly, The Guardian and USA TODAY. “My role at Infomous was an incredible journey where I played very much a generalist role and got to see multiple aspects of the business,” explained Scarlett.

She also realized her love for technology. During her 3 year stint at Infomous, BBVA reached out and encouraged them to apply to their startup competition, Open Talent. The group was selected as a finalist, which ultimately led her to her transition to BBVA. At that time, BBVA Compass Bank, an $86 billion bank headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, was looking looking at being the best digital bank in the world. Scarlett’s knowledge and relationships within the tech ecosystem and experience with APIs assisted in her making the move to BBVA as SVP, Global Business Development and New Digital Business a great fit. “I very much respected and admired BBVA’s culture and executive team,” said Scarlett. In this role, she leveraged BBVA’s assets to secure partnerships within the ecosystem accelerating the global innovation strategy within the US. She also served as the US lead for BBVA’s millennial initiative.

Most recently she was Vice President at USAA where she led the newly created business development initiative. Prior, she was Chief Innovation Officer of Opus Bank, an $8 billion retail and commercial bank, where she led the digital strategy and transformation for Opus and its $15 bilion trust subsidiary, Pensco. She writes on innovation and technology frequently and has been featured in industry publications and podcasts reaching millions. Not to mention she has won over a dozen industry awards for her accomplishments and contributions including “Women in FinTech Powerlist 2016” by Innovate Finance, “Top 10 FinTech Influencers in US” by LTP, “Top 20 Innovators to Watch” by Bank Innovation, and “Women in Power Finance” by Kurtosys. If you haven’t figured it out at this point, Scarlett is kind of a BIG deal!

Scarlett and her husband, Troy, with their wedding party.

Beyond the Bank
Outside of work, she is a contributor to the Huffington Post, Forbes, and WeWork. She is a NYC Fellow of Startup Leadership Program. This past summer, she married her husband, Troy and resides in New York City.

MOTIVATION | I have always had the attitude of giving first and do whatever I can to help support the tech ecosystem, especially for women and minorities. I spend time mentoring women and minorities from everything to their startup, careers, business relationships, etc. I go into every situation with an open mind, trying to soak in all the knowledge and experience possible while providing unique view points and ways of thinking.

Join me as we celebrate this week’s Girl Banker of the Week, Scarlett Sieber!

Girl Banker of the Week: Eileen Jennings

Girl Banker of the Week: Eileen Jennings

As women in banking, it is important that we lift each other up and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. The entire purpose of the Girl Banker blog is to do just that! The Girl Banker of the Week series serves as a way to highlight Girl Bankers everywhere by telling their stories and motivating and encouraging other women in banking. It also is a great way for women in banking to connect! Read below about this week’s Girl Banker of the Week!

Eileen Jennings | SVP, Area Loan Manager | Arvest Bank
I met Eileen several years ago during my Arvest days. She was a Commercial Banker in the Fayetteville, Arkansas market and I was just getting my start as a consumer, commercial, and mortgage lender in a much more rural part of the county in Prairie Grove, Arkansas. At that time, Arvest Bank Chairman, Jim Walton, (you may have heard of his family’s little business, Walmart) was making a push for diversity within the Arvest system, more specifically in the commercial lending area. I impressed that he was making such an effort as it was rather unheard of in the early 2000’s in the banking industry. Mr. Walton wanted to do an ad of all of the female commercial lenders and I was invited to be a part of it. I was immediately intimidated by all of the other women. They really seemed to have it all figured out and I was super green, right out of Graduate School. Eileen really seemed to have it all figured out.

A few months later, I was in a C and I Lending class with her and she would ask a lot of questions and used a lot of big words only very experienced lenders would understand. I remember thinking, “I hope I can be half as smart as her someday.” Well, here I am several years later and I am confident that I am most definitely not as smart as Eileen Jennings. I’m so excited to feature her on the Girl Banker blog as this week’s Girl Banker of the Week.

Girl Banker Story
Eileen was born and raised in rural Madison County, Arkansas. She attended the University of Arkansas and received a B.S.B.A. in International Economics and Business with an emphasis in European studies. During that time, she attended the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi to study French and spent six months in Toulouse, France studying international business at the Ecole Superieur de Commerce.  After graduation, Eileen worked for Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, CA in its national product development department and returned to Fayetteville in 2001 to finish her B.S.B.A in finance.  She moved to Kansas City, MO and worked for PNC Bank’s subsidiary, Midland Loan Services, as a credit analyst and was recruited and hired by Key Bank Commercial Mortgage Capital Group where she worked as a securitization analyst.

Eileen later returned to Fayetteville and was hired as a commercial credit analyst for Arvest Bank – Bentonville.  She has been with Arvest for over fourteen years and is currently Senior Vice President, Area Loan Manager in Fayetteville. As a commercial banker, Eileen works closely with many small business owners to start new businesses and expand current ones.  She is consistently one of the top SBA lenders in the area in terms of number of loans closed.

Eileen and her Arvest team dressed up as the Saved By the Bell cast for Halloween! #nailedit

Beyond the Bank
Eileen and her husband, Walter have one daughter, Scout Pepper.  They reside in in Washington County, south of Fayetteville on their farm, the Lazy “E”. She volunteers her time with the ASBTDC at the Walton College of Business as well as Start Up Junkie in Fayetteville. She is also the past President for the Junior League of Northwest Arkansas, on the Board of Directors for the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust, and volunteers with Peace at Home Family Shelter, EOA Children’s House and with the American Cancer Society’s Reach to Recovery program. Eileen is a two-time breast cancer survivor and frequently speaks on the subject.

Eileen and her husband, Walter. Fun fact: she made this dress!

She was a graduate of Leadership Fayetteville XXVII, former Board of Directors member for the NWA chapter of RMA, a member of Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 in 2014 and named Commercial Banker of the Year for Arkansas in 2016 and was the Business Advocate of the Year in 2017 for the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce.

If you haven’t already, you should follow Eileen on social media and get a look at her favorite hobbies which include sewing, fly-fishing, taekwondo and working around the farm. She makes the most amazing pieces including a pair of shoes! She’s a “Jill” of all trades, no doubt!

Eileen and her daughter, Scout at one of their taekwondo competitions.

MOTIVATION | I am motivated by potential. Having lost my mom when she was in her early forties, I am motivated by making the most of the life we are given and realizing our potential through hard work and joy. Going through cancer treatments twice in the last five years has proven how important it is to live your best life… all the time!

Join me as we celebrate this week’s Girl Banker of the Week, Eileen Jennings!

 

Girl Banker of the Week: Julie Croak Waddle

Girl Banker of the Week: Julie Croak Waddle

As women in banking, it is important that we lift each other up and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. The entire purpose of the Girl Banker blog is to do just that! The Girl Banker of the Week series serves as a way to highlight Girl Bankers everywhere by telling their stories and motivating and encouraging other women in banking. It also is a great way for women in banking to connect! Read below about this week’s Girl Banker of the Week!

Julie Croak Waddle | AVP, Digital Marketing Manager | FNB Community Bank
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that I’m a social media nerd. Without social media, this blog would be non-existent and I wouldn’t have a clue what any of my friends were doing these days, much less know what they ate for dinner or if they worked out this morning. That being said, through social media, especially Twitter, I have been exposed to a whole new world of banking friends! Many of which I have actually never met in person but feel like if I did, everything would be cool and we could hang out like we’ve known each other for years. Enter Julie Waddle, AVP, Digital Marketing Manager of FNB Community Bank in Midwest City, Oklahoma. Julie and I are connected on Instagram (both of my accounts) and on Twitter, and I’m pretty sure I could run into her somewhere and be like, “Oh hey, Julie!” but surprise, we have never actually met in the flesh! Banking can be boring. Really boring. And it can be even more boring on Twitter, that’s why I like following Julie! She is often involved in ICBA Twitter Chats and offers a fun, fresh view of banking. Here is her Girl Banker story.

Girl Banker Story
Julie is no stranger to banking as she is a part of the fourth generation of Croaks to have worked at FNB Community Bank. It’s a family thing! Her first job was popping popcorn at the bank at the age of 10. “I loved coming up on Fridays in the summer and making some extra cash,” said Julie. Sounds like a banker in the making! Prior to starting college, Julie had decided to study marketing and at that time, FNB Community Bank had just started thinking about bringing on additional help for their marketing department. She began working part-time for the bank in April of 2012 in the Solutions Center and continued to work there during her summer’s off from the University of Oklahoma. During her senior year, she worked part-time as an Operations Intern, rotating through each department of the bank and gained a good understanding of how everything was connected and worked. In April 2016, she was given the title of Digital Marketing Manager and transitioned to a full-time role. Later in December of 2016, she became an Assistant Vice President. Since that time, Julie has amped up the marketing of FNB Community Bank by providing a true online presence through social media and digital marketing campaigns. “Being able to express creativity, while also using my background education is business management has made this role very rewarding.”

“Julie truly has been a game changer for my bank with regard to fresh outlooks and communication styles with younger generations of current and potential customers,” said Bill Croak, President and CEO of FNB Community Bank. “I believe she exemplifies the positive qualities of her generation and I believe she is developing into a future senior manager of the bank.” If that’s not a proud dad, I don’t know what is!

Julie’s dad, Bill Croak, President and CEO of FNB Community Bank.

Julie graduated from The University of Oklahoma’s Price College of Business with special distinction in Marketing and Management. At OU, Julie was a member of the Alpha Phi sorority, the President’s Leadership Class, and the Campus Activities Council Executive Committee. Julie attended and graduated from the Oklahoma Bankers Association’s Basic Banking School in 2016 and the OBA’s Intermediate Banking School in 2017. She also serves as the Intermediate/Basic Banking School Board of Regent for the OBA.

In her spare time…
Just like any good community banker, Julie is involved in a variety of non-profit and community organizations. She serves as the Public Relations Director for the Junior Service League of Midwest City, is a Mid-Del Food Pantry Board Member, a Mid-Del Group Home Board of Director, and is a Big Sister for Big Brother & Big Sisters of Oklahoma. Julie and her husband, Austin, reside in Midwest City with their beagle, Boomer.

Julie and her husband, Austin.

MOTIVATION | “I am most motivated by my husband who constantly reminds me of my strengths and gifts that I bring to the table. It is so encouraging to have a partner who believes in everything I do whole-heartedly at such a young age. I am beyond thankful for his influence in my life. I am also motivated by the fact that I get the chance to continue my family’s legacy of community banking and philanthropic impact on Midwest City and Eastern Oklahoma County.”

Join me as we celebrate this week’s Girl Banker of the Week, Julie Waddle!

Girl Banker of the Week: Olivia Bajaj

Girl Banker of the Week: Olivia Bajaj

As women in banking, it is important that we lift each other up and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. The entire purpose of the Girl Banker blog is to do just that! The Girl Banker of the Week series serves as a way to highlight Girl Bankers everywhere by telling their stories and motivating and encouraging other women in banking. It also is a great way for women in banking to connect! Read below about this week’s Girl Banker of the Week!

Olivia Bajaj | Vice President, Credit Officer | American National Bank & Trust
You might be noticing that a big selection of the Girl Bankers of the Week are connections from Graduate School of Banking Colorado. I may be a little biased but it’s my blog, so I can do what I want! Regardless, all of them are noteworthy and Olivia Bajaj of Little Elm, Texas is no exception. A quick glimpse of her resume will blow you away! I first met Olivia in 2013 during our first year at GSBC in Boulder, Colorado. Regardless if I ran into her in the classroom, hallway, or on Pearl Street, she always had the sweetest smile and demeanor.  She is lethal with numbers and one selfless gal. I’m thrilled to tell her story this week as the Girl Banker of the Week!

Girl Banker Story
“When I started college, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do,” said Olivia. “At the time, I found it important to understand my own finances in an effort to set myself up for the future, so I decided to go the financial route.

Olivia and her fiance, Andre.

Olivia got her Bachelor’s of Business Administration Degree with a Minor in Finance from the University of North Texas in 2007 and upon graduating, found a credit analyst position at TIB-The Independent Bankers Bank in Farmers Branch, Texas. It was then that she realized how much she understood and loved numbers and the rest was history. She was promoted to VP|Commercial Loan Underwriter II after just 18 months on the job. While in that role, she attended Texas Tech Banking School in 2010, obtained her MBA from Texas A&M in 2013, and graduated from Graduate School of Banking in Boulder, Colorado in 2015.

In 2016, Olivia was recruited to American National Bank & Trust in Flower Mound, Texas to be a Vice President, Credit Officer, where she has been instrumental in implementing stronger risk management processes for active management and asset quality in addition to performing annual portfolio review of credits over $1 million to identify any material changes in borrower/guarantor financial position and collateral deficiencies amongst many other duties.

She is a member of the Texas Chapter of the Risk Management Association (RMA), National Society of Leadership and Success, and Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society.

In her spare time…
When she isn’t banking, Olivia volunteers with Soup Mobile, a program benefitting the homeless in the Dallas community. She also participates in the Christ United Methodist Church Metrocrest “Sack Summer Hunger” food program. She and her fiance,

MOTIVATION | “Creating a positive work environment so everyone can be successful is my motivation. I’m always striving to help others shine brighter even if that means my light gets dimmer during the process. My grandmother my true inspiration and is the most selfless person I know so I’m just trying to be more like her each and every day.”

Olivia and her grandmother, her inspiration!

Join me as we celebrate this week’s Girl Banker of the Week, Olivia Bajaj!

Girl Banker of the Week: Donna Townsell

Girl Banker of the Week: Donna Townsell

As women in banking, it is important that we lift each other up and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. The entire purpose of the Girl Banker blog is to do just that! The Girl Banker of the Week series serves as a way to highlight Girl Bankers everywhere by telling their stories and motivating and encouraging other women in banking. It also is a great way for women in banking to connect! Read below about this week’s Girl Banker of the Week!

Donna Townsell | Director of Investor Relations | Centennial Bank
My first introduction to this week’s Girl Banker of the Week was in 2016 at the Arkansas Bankers Association Women In Banking Conference when she sat on a panel with recently retired, Lisa Ray of Arvest Bank. As she answered questions from the audience about how she managed work, life, balance, and overcoming typical stigmas that come along with being a female in this industry, I immediately knew I would be seeing more of her at some point in my career. I was pleasantly surprised when I received an email from a fellow girl banker and fan of Donna, nominating her for Girl Banker of the Week. While we have only communicated via email and social media, I have a feeling I have a new friend and mentor! Here is Donna’s Girl Banker story!

Girl Banker Story
When Donna was 8 years old, she wanted to be a veterinarian. In high school, she shifted toward being an attorney.  (A girl can be whatever she wants to be, am I right?) She didn’t end up pursuing either one and according to Donna, never really decided what she wanted to be when she grew up. She graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a bachelor’s in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing but didn’t begin her career in banking until several years later. “I’m very fond of the motto, ‘bloom where you’re planted’ and I feel that my career is a testament to that,” Donna said. Immediately following college, she worked at R&G Sloane as a Customer Service Rep for three years and then Acxiom Corporation for eleven years.

Her girl banker story began in 2007 when she joined Conway, Arkansas based Centennial Bank as a project manager. And girls, let me tell you, Donna began to bloom! In 2009 she was promoted to Director of Corporate Efficiencies and managed Centennial’s initiative to lower their efficiency ratio from the 60’s to the 30’s.  By 2016, Donna was promoted to Director of Marketing and has since served on the Operations Committee, Strategic Planning Committee, Executive Committee, and M&A Committee. Earlier this week, it was announced that Donna was promoted, yet again to Director of Investor Relations for Centennial Bank and Home Bancshares, Inc., parent company of Centennial.

Donna has served as a mentor to many women in the industry throughout her career. She has had the opportunity to speak at the Arkansas State University Business Women’s Leadership Conference as well as the Arkansas Bankers Association Women In Banking Conference and participated in the University of Central Arkansas Young Business Women’s Conference. “I enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the college ladies and hear about their future plans and share with them my own experiences,” said Donna.

Donna and her adorable daughter, Riley.

In her spare time…
Donna is the proud single mom to her daughter, Riley, and miniature Schnauzer, Rosie. She has held various board positions over the years in Conway. She is a current member of the Weekday Childcare Committee for First United Methodist Church, serves as a board member for Faulkner Lifestyle Magazine, and is a Conway Area Leadership Institute graduate and Delta Zeta alum. Donna says that she hopes that if anyone had to sum her up in one word it would be “thoughtful.”

MOTIVATION | “Be the person your boss thinks of when he or she needs something done.”

Join me as we celebrate this week’s Girl Banker of the Week, Donna Townsell!

Girl Banker of the Week: Michelle Hodge

Girl Banker of the Week: Michelle Hodge

As women in banking, it is important that we lift each other up and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. The entire purpose of the Girl Banker blog is to do just that! The Girl Banker of the Week series serves as a way to highlight Girl Bankers everywhere by telling their stories and motivating and encouraging other women in banking. It also is a great way for women in banking to connect! Read below about this week’s Girl Banker of the Week!

Michelle Hodge | Review Examiner | Texas Department of Banking
Not all bankers come in the form of a lender, teller, president, new accounts representative, or marketing director. There is another banker role that is likely not celebrated enough and plays an incredibly important role in the continued safety and soundness of America’s community banks: the bank examiner.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with bank examiners, here is the definition according to Wikipedia: A bank examiner is a financial professional, a species of auditor, who has the task of making sure that banks…are operating legally, ethically, and safely, in accordance with the bank regulations imposed on these institutions by the chartering level of government. In the United States, they may conduct supervision on behalf of state governments, a United States government agency, or the Federal Reserve System. The main duties of a bank examiner are to ensure that a bank’s operations are legal and can guarantee financial stability.  A bank examiner will also review the balance sheet, evaluate the level of risk associated with a loan, and assess the management of a bank. Got it?

Meet Michelle Hodge, Review Examiner for the Texas Department of Banking in Austin, TX.

Girl Banker Story
Michelle got her start in banking in 2006 as an Accounting Analyst at Platinum Bank in Lubbock, Texas, which happened to be one of the last state chartered de novo banks prior to the Great Recession. While there, she worked directly with the CEO and CFO to purchase a branch from another financial institution and with the Texas Department of Banking on the de novo bank application and director profiles. She performed the role of accounts payable, assisted with setting up internet and telephone banking and was instrumental in preparing board reports and policies.

Michelle, and her girl banker pals, Molly and Katie at their GSBC graduation in 2017.

Her love for community banks began while working at Platinum Bank.  “The impact community banks have in their communities is great,” Michelle said. “I can think of several small towns in Texas that have a community bank but are so small they don’t even have a restaurant or a stop light. However, they provide a service that keeps the community alive.” One of Michelle’s favorite quotes that she believes exudes the essence of community banking is by ICBA Past Chairman, Jack Hartings: “There is not another industry that has a more vested interest in the communities they serve or has more opportunity to provide that community with the resources to succeed. We don’t cut and run when the economy gets tough. We roll up our sleeves and work side by side with our customers to get them through the tough times.”

Michelle graduated from Texas Tech University in Lubbock in 2007 with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration degree and was hired by the Texas Department of Banking in Houston as a Financial Examiner I  in 2008. In March of 2013, she passed the commissioning process and was promoted to a Senior Financial Examiner VII in September of 2017, just a few months after graduating from the Graduate School of Banking in Colorado. Her roles included acting as Examiner-In-Charge (EIC) of all types of examinations regardless of size and complexity, ensuring proper application of department policies and procedures in addition to state and federal regulations, and serving as a leader, mentor, and supervisor of less experienced examiners among many other duties.

In February of 2018, Michelle was promoted again to Review Examiner of the Texas Department of Banking which relocated her to Austin. She performs the Austin Headquarters review of regional examination reports and is always keeping up with the ever-changing laws, regulations, policies, and procedures of federal or other regulatory agencies that may affect the Department. The fact that a female has this role is a BIG deal. She’s a trailblazer, to say the least.

In her spare time…
When she isn’t keeping all the banks in Texas in line, Michelle and her husband, Stephen, of 15 years, and their dog, Gustav, love a good walk. They also are avid travelers, having visited 8 eight different countries in the last four years and have a trip booked for Singapore, Phuket, and Bangkok later in 2018. Michelle also serves as a Graduate School of Banking Strategic Topic Advisor and volunteers for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day event. She has walked in six Susan G. Komen 3-day 60-mile walks herself with 5 being in Dallas and 1 in San Diego, CA. Additionally, she is a member of the State Agency Council that supports the Governor’s Commission for Women. Her hobbies are running, hiking and basically anything outdoors. She even climbed a fourteener in Colorado last year!

MIchelle and her husband, Stephen and dog, Gustav.

MOTIVATION | “Working for a leadership team that I believe in.”

Join me as we celebrate this week’s Girl Banker of the Week, Michelle Hodge!