Relationships matter: Lessons I’ve learned in 30 years of banking
Jackie Gearhart, vice president of treasury management at UMB Bank, was recently honored as part of the Wichita Business Journal’s 2020 Women Who Lead awards. Jackie has spent 30 years in banking and shares how she’s overcome challenges, what she loves about her community and what she’s doing to help women succeed.
I started my career as a part-time teller and never thought that 32 years later I would still be in the banking and finance industry. I have always been extremely hardworking and eager to explore new opportunities that were presented to me. I truly enjoy helping companies manage their finances and achieve their financial goals.
I feel very fortunate to work for a company that rewards hard work, promotes a teamwork environment and feels strongly about supporting female leadership. I’ve learned many important lessons throughout my career and hope others can learn from my experiences.
Step outside of your comfort zone
My biggest professional challenge was when I assumed responsibility for multiple territories in my role at UMB Bank. Previously, I had primarily worked in the community I live. This opportunity forced me to step outside of my comfort zone and allowed me to learn how to integrate and work with multiple leaders. I quickly found myself covering two states and learning how to work with several different teams and personalities.
Each market has different goals, priorities and industries that they support. I worked hard to adjust to each community’s specific needs and learn the different dynamics of our customer relationships. I’ve found that communication is vital when you are covering a large territory. I had to really dig into each community and client to find out what was important to them in order to build trust, and in turn, a strong relationship to be successful. It was challenging, but it was also something I am glad to have embraced.
I’ve learned that meaningful relationships are what matter most. Over the years, the skills I have learned and relationships I have formed have contributed to my success both professionally and personally. Listening and relationships go hand-in-hand. So much of the service that we provide begins by listening to the customer or prospect and providing a customized solution for their banking needs. It is not a one size fits all approach and varies based on their priorities.
Always give back
Giving back to the community I live in has always been a top priority for me. I thoroughly enjoy working with local nonprofits and being involved in my community. I am passionate about improving the quality of life for people in Wichita and the surrounding areas. I serve on the United Way board, am a member of the Circle of Red for the American Heart Association and am a member of Women United. I also serve as chair for the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce Honors Night committee, where we award outstanding individuals and corporations for their contributions to the greater well-being of the Wichita community. I love this event because it is so impactful, and it allows community leaders to be recognized for their great work and the time they have invested in our city.
I believe that if you are contributing to your community, you want to make sure the community is successful, and what better way to do that than with nonprofit involvement.
Lead by example
Lead by your actions, work hard, and most importantly, learn by listening. I’ve had great mentors at UMB who took chances on me and supported my career. I now work hard to provide that same mentorship to employees looking to develop their career or explore community involvement. I think it’s so important to practice what you preach and lead through your actions. I’ve realized people are always watching what you do and how you react, so I try to set a good example of leadership and positivity for our teams. I also believe it’s important for young women in the banking and finance industry to see other women in leadership positions to know they have the opportunity to grow and thrive in their career.
The biggest takeaway during my 30 years in banking: challenge yourself to explore new opportunities, learn new things and get involved in your community.
I’m honored and humbled to be recognized by the Wichita Business Journal as a 2020 Women Who Lead honoree‡ and look forward to many more years of making a difference in my community.
Read more about UMB’s people –many of whom have decades of experience, just like Jackie’s 30 years in banking–and find out how we support our associates in our Corporate Citizenship Report. Follow UMB on LinkedIn, Facebook‡ and Twitter‡ to see regular updates about our company, people and timely financial perspectives.
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