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!