Tell us your journey into the banking industry.
In the beginning, I never thought I’d be a banker, but I was given the opportunity to work on a project years ago on the banking side and fell in love with the industry. I’ve now been in banking for 25 years, 15 of which have been with UMB. I never thought that my experience would land me a spot on American Banker’s most powerful women in banking‡ but I’m grateful for the opportunity and can’t imagine being anywhere else other than UMB in my role today.
What were the challenges and tough choices you had to make along the way?
Being an immigrant from India and a minority, I have always found that I need to be more deliberate and focused on the things I want to do and accomplish. My habits and my determination have helped me to earn trust and respect from my associates and peers and I have put in the work to become the leader I am and a subject matter expert in my industry.
It was definitely a culture change when I came to America but being at UMB has helped me realize that being different is okay, and it’s vital that you are your authentic self in everything that you do, and not try to be like everyone else.
What are some of the rewards you get being a leader?
As a leader, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing your team excel. You work hard to teach them and guide them in strategy or on certain projects and seeing them be successful in that work is truly joyful.
Why is it important for women to have leadership positions?
Diversity in any industry or work environment is important. It’s crucial that you are bringing diverse perspectives and ideas to everything that you do; otherwise, it’s going to be boring and likely lacking critical insights. Having people who can challenge the status quo makes for the best results in any situation.
What would you say to teenage girls and women interested in a career in banking and how to progress higher on the corporate ladder into leadership?
The first thing I would say is that bankers are fun! Many people think the industry is boring but our industry and other professional services industries like engineering and accounting are growing and becoming more popular among women, which is fantastic to see. The second is that you have to be passionate about your role and find a career that fuels that passion. Keep your options open—find something that you love and stick with it.
Learn more about Uma Wilson and other female executive leaders at UMB in a recent news broadcast segment on 41 Action News‡ in Kansas City.
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