We talk with Theresa Nikolaus, vice president and delivery manager, about her role, greatest accomplishment in her career and how she will use her leadership role for positive impact in St. Louis.

What is your role at UMB?

I’m responsible for the consumer retail division in St. Louis, where I manage the operations of 13 branches, 65 associates and 13 direct reports. I lead the team on our sales initiative while making sure we are operationally sound and that we are focused on our customers.

What do you consider to be your highest level of responsibility and greatest achievement to date?

In my current role, my biggest responsibility is driving revenue to UMB and managing a multimillion-dollar budget. However, the root of my job is to focus on providing our customers an unparalleled customer experience. I believe when your attention is on making the banking process seamless, unintimidating and accessible, then the rest falls into place. Customers feel appreciated and continue banking with us—which in turn attracts more customers. As a delivery manager, I’m able to combine my deep understanding of operations with my desire to build relationships and help others succeed.

My greatest accomplishment ties back to the associates that I work with, leading them to additional roles within UMB and helping develop their leadership skills. Many times in the banking retail world, associates are entry level and are for the most part, unfamiliar with everything that a bank does and how we interact with the community. UMB has so many different divisions and I believe being able to share that depth with these new associates helps them advance in their careers and capitalize on their skill sets. I’ve been able to see some individuals start their careers in the branch setting and move on to unbelievable success either with UMB or in another field. Providing that professional development is something I take great pride in.

You’ve recently been admitted into the Leadership St. Louis program, what strengths and experiences do you plan to bring into the program?

I will bring tenacity and the strong ability to make a decision with actionable next steps. I am a strategist at heart and enjoy putting a plan together for the team to execute on. If I encounter a problem or a situation, I get energized by it, as opposed to becoming overwhelmed by it. I see it as a math problem or a word problem, something that needs to be figured out and I shine in being able to organize people for a plan and act. Problem solving does not mean being right all the time; it means staying calm, looking for opportunities and exploring what different solutions look like. I’d bring the ability to focus and effectively communicate in what could be a chaotic situation for others.

How will you use the experience you gain from Leadership St. Louis in your community and profession?

I will use this experience to further our customer and community impact at UMB in the St. Louis market and regionally. We serve individuals below the poverty level and extremely wealthy clients who all need financial advice and I think anything I can learn to help better the relationships with our customers as well as enhance the skills of our employees for collaborating and communicating with our customers is a win.

We have many different lines of business within UMB and while I’m in the retail division, I hope to take some of the valuable insights I learn and be able to share those with other associates so that we can all take those learnings and apply them across the bank.

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