Throughout my career, I’ve worked in nearly every capacity in and around the banking industry – you could say I’ve taken a walk through the banking world, set foot outside of it, and then moved back into it.

The various endeavors I’ve been involved with have entered my personal and professional path in different ways. Some I’ve deliberately pursued while others seemed to find me at just the right time. Regardless of where I’ve worked, I’ve always stayed focused on learning as much as I can and using the knowledge and skills I’ve gained in my next opportunity.

As UMB president of the Fort Worth, Texas market there are some key approaches I’ve learned throughout my journey—both personally and professionally.

Be self-aware

At the outset of my career, I intentionally sought work on the banker side of the loan desk, so I would learn the banker’s perspective on business. My plan was to spend just a few years on that side and then move to the client side. I found, though, that I really enjoyed the banker’s side, so I ended up staying in that part of the banking world longer than anticipated.

Through this experience, I learned how important it is to be attuned to what’s driving you and is fulfilling. If this means staying in one part of the banking world (or elsewhere) for longer than originally planned, that’s perfectly fine—as long as you continue to push yourself and grow within that space.

Nothing replaces grit and grind

After about 12 years in banking, I decided to make the transition I had always planned and went to work for one of my clients. My first role was as CFO, and it was honestly terrifying at first. I had an extraordinary amount of responsibility on my shoulders, and while I knew I was qualified for the job, I also knew there was quite a bit I needed to learn—with no one really to guide me.

It would have been easy to panic or turn back to the banking world I knew so well, but I pushed myself and buckled down to learn all I could to be the top-notch CFO the company needed.

The first two years in that role were extremely difficult; in addition to executing on the aspects of the job that simply needed coverage, I spent most of my spare time studying lessons from other CFOs and C-suite leaders to develop a vision not just for my role but the company overall. It took grit and grind, but it paid off in the company’s success and my eventual roles as COO and CEO.

This experience reinforced something that may sound obvious but should never be overlooked: putting in the energy and the hours will ultimately pay off.

Get creative

Banking may not seem like the most creative job, but I consider myself to be a creative person. I embrace creativity in my personal life to help it shine through in my professional life. In my spare time, I run a hat business‡. The goal with this project isn’t to make money; rather, it’s to do something I love while creating hats that are special to those who wear them.

I have tried to remain creative in every role throughout my career. Now, I use creativity every day in my job when I’m problem solving and finding unique solutions for our customers through a loan or other projects

There is more opportunity for creativity in banking than one might think.

The power of people

Over the years, I’ve been asked if there’s an accomplishment I’m most proud of, and my answer is always the same: the people I’ve brought together, worked with and mentored.

We all must push ourselves to learn and grow in our own individual capacity. Yet, it’s paramount we realize we can’t reach lofty goals or achieve significant success on our own. We must support, inspire and learn from one another. This philosophy is something I find particularly inspiring at UMB, and in Fort Worth specifically.

After my journey to the corporate world and now back to banking, I found the Texas community to be not only welcoming, but also humble. I am proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish together, and the team members who are the “boots on the ground” work incredibly hard day in and day out. I’ve learned you can have the best products and offerings in place, but if you don’t have the right people, it will be difficult to reach the levels of success you aspire to.

Traversing the world of banking has kept both my personal and professional life interesting, to say the least. As I continue to move through varying parts of the banking world, I have a sincere sense of excitement to keep learning, sharing knowledge and helping our bank and community prosper.

Together, we can all grow and learn from our personal journeys and professional strengths.

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