Blog   Tagged ‘leader’

Meet the Leadership: Rekha Patnaik, Executive Vice President and Director of Bank Strategy and Administration

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Q&A with Rekha Patnaik, Executive Vice President and Director of Bank Strategy and Administration

From India to New York to Missouri (and several other stops along the way) Rekha Patnaik executive vice president and director of bank strategy and administration, had a very full journey before landing in Kansas City with UMB.

See how her family, life experiences and lessons learned along the way have helped shape her outlook on career and life.

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Tell us about what your life was like growing up.
I was born and raised in India, and have one older sister. My mother was a homemaker and my father worked as a government official in India in a role that would be similar to a position in the U.S. Forestry Service.

Because of my father’s work, we lived a fairly mobile lifestyle and frequently moved around the country. Some of these places included three years in the Andaman Islands located on the Bay of Bengal, and Shillong, located in the Northeast of India for two years. I think in all, I lived in more than six different places as a child.

While this was great because I experienced the many diverse cultures found in India, some places were better than others, particularly from a safety standpoint. We lived in Kashmir when I was in the fifth grade, and after our winter break, we could not return to our home because the terrorism was so bad. My high school years were spent in a city named Jammu, which is around 30 miles east of the Pakistani border, so during that time in my life, we lived with the threat of terrorism on a regular basis.

When you were in school did you know that you wanted to work in banking?
No. After graduating from high-school, I attended university in Pune (near Mumbai) for my undergraduate degree. I took the Graduate Requisite Exam to attend Stony Brook University in New York because of its excellent computer science program. When I graduated, my first job was actually with a technology start-up company.

Why did you move from New York?
While studying in New York, I met my husband. I landed a job at a startup company in New Jersey, and he ended up getting a job in Peoria, Ill.

After months of us flying back and forth to see each other on the weekends, we decided that I was going to move to Peoria to be with him. This is where my business career began. The job I found in Peoria bridged the gap between my technology skills and business. I really enjoyed the business side of the work, so I decided to focus more on that.

Tell us about your career at UMB
I joined UMB in 2008. I started my career in the Management Rotation Program before joining the Corporate Strategy team. I was a founding member of the Merger and Acquisition department at UMB. In my current position of executive vice president, director bank strategy and administration, I am responsible for leading and managing projects initiated by the UMB Bank chief executive officer, in addition to prioritizing bank resources and commitments to ensure maximum efficiency and efficacy.

Are there lessons your parents taught that you regularly draw from?
To me, it’s all about humility, working hard, and being even-tempered. My father was my professional role model, and he used to say, “Work is Worship.” He loved his work very much, and each day he would come home and often spend time working on his files. He was a very good diplomat and believed in the power of diplomacy to accomplish goals and get things done.

My mother always had a very cool head and would be described as “even keeled.” She was a great role model for what mothers should be. Now that I have a daughter of my own, I often find myself drawing from examples I learned from her.

What advice would you give to aspiring female leaders of tomorrow?
Going back to what my father used to say, “Work is Worship.” The more you love what you’re doing the more rewards will come to you. When you begin your professional life, don’t focus on the rewards. Be humble, work hard, be sure to network, and don’t be afraid to toot your horn, when appropriate. It can be challenging, but don’t look at life or work as a place with a destination, but as a continuous journey of discovering what you love.



UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a diversified financial holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking services, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arizona and Texas, as well as two national specialty-lending businesses. Subsidiaries of the holding company include companies that offer services to mutual funds and alternative-investment entities and registered investment advisors that offer equity and fixed income strategies to institutions and individual investors.

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Connecting the Dots: Commercial client forum

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You’ve probably attended industry or community events with time set aside for networking. But, have you ever met at your company’s bank for an event dedicated solely to networking and sharing ideas? Earlier this year, UMB’s commercial banking team brought together a group of our clients to share ideas and perspectives about everything from succession planning to product evolution and other leadership topics. We sat down with Brian Beaird, senior vice president in UMB’s Commercial Banking department, to discuss this informative client forum.

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What was your goal with the forum?

We wanted to bring in a handful of our clients so they could discuss leadership topics and expand their business networks. The goal was to create meaningful opportunities to develop relationships beyond traditional commercial banking interactions. We wanted to connect our clients to others like them so they could discuss real-life challenges and take away tangible ideas to consider for their businesses.

Who did you invite to this event?

We invited senior leadership from ten middle market clients across our eight-state footprint. The clients represented various industries, from construction to non-profits. They also represented various types of leadership within the company. Three of the businesses are family run, ranging from first to third generation leadership.

Specifically, what did the attendees discuss?

In addition to the general leadership topics, we utilized articles from the Harvard Business Review to guide our discussion. The articles created a framework for facilitated discussion that created unique perspectives based on the various styles of leadership in the room and industry-specific scenarios that enabled group members to think differently about their business.

What surprised you about their conversations?

The clients who attended provided a unique perspective that helps us to better understand how various industries are performing and how they are projected to perform. Additionally, it was interesting to watch the attendees make connections to similar issues they’ve experienced, even if they were in different industries. For example, one attendee was concerned with an aspect of his company’s succession plan. Another attendee had a very similar experience in his company and the two were able to talk after the forum and exchange ideas on how to help solve the problem.

What was the outcome of these meetings?

The companies we bring in for these forums are geographically separated, but they have begun to do business together and leverage the experiences of the group as an information source for decision-making. Two attendees have actually developed a business partnership as a direct result of this meeting.

Having done two of these forums since last fall, we continue to follow up with the attendees to ensure the conversation continues. In fact, one member requested that we help lead a strategic off-site meeting for their company.

The most important takeaway we’ve seen from these meetings is the company leaders have realized it’s important for them to branch outside of their networks like this on a regular basis. Communicating with other companies outside the standard, day-to-day business interactions can help you create partnerships you may never have developed otherwise. You may even be able to learn from the experiences of other companies and apply them to your own.


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Mr. Beaird is a senior vice president in UMB’s Commercial Banking department. He is responsible for commercial banking strategy, which focuses on the development of growth through our people and various markets. He joined UMB in 2009 and has 14 years of experience in the financial services industry. He earned an MBA and a master’s degree in human resources from Webster University in Kansas City, MO. Mr. Beaird is also the co-founder of the Kids to Kings youth basketball organization.

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