Did you always know you wanted to be in banking?

I like to say that I didn’t choose banking, but that banking chose me. My background is in psychology and criminal justice and I got into social work straight out of college. After a few years in social work, I took an HR internship at a credit union in Nebraska before moving to Kansas City and working at the HR call center at UMB in 2002. Now, I’ve been with the bank for more than 18 years and have held nine different roles in that time frame, all of which have helped me grow and expand my opportunities to learn about the business. Starting out in psychology, I never thought I’d be where I am today, or be recognized by the Kansas City Business Journal as part of its Women Who Mean Business award, and UMB has played a pivotal role in all of that. The company continues to adapt, grow and change after more than 100 years in the industry. And, I like to think of career growth and professional development as following a similar course.

What are the joys of being a leader at UMB?

I love that I get the opportunity to develop and positively impact others. I am humbled and grateful every day to teach people about our brand and help remind people about our values and allow them to be their best selves at work.

Who is a woman in your life who influenced you to pursue your dreams?

My maternal grandmother shaped who I am today. She was the CEO of my family’s commercial contracting company in New Mexico until she was 81 while also being a mother to her five children. When I would go to work with her, I loved watching her go around and make sure that her employees were okay. She never sat behind a desk or in meetings all day. She taught me the importance of being an empathetic and supporting leader and even today when I’m faced with tough decisions, I think about what she would do.

What are you doing to inspire other women to become strong leaders?

I spend a lot of my time with different women’s groups in Kansas City. I am a speaker for the Central Exchange Emerging Leaders program that is designed to connect and empower women across generations and emerging leaders and help them find their voice. In my outreach, it’s my goal to show women how qualified they really are and instill confidence in them to go after their dreams.

I’m also an advisory director for WIN For KC. As a former athlete, I love to help women see the value of sports in leadership. This organization empowers the lives of girls and women through advocating and promoting the value of sports and fitness. I try to always be transparent and share my struggles and experiences to help other women know they aren’t alone.

Learn more about Shannon Johnson and other female executive leaders at UMB in a recent news broadcast segment on 41 Action Newsin Kansas City.


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