Leader Q&A: Nicole Watson leads with her heart
Nicole Watson serves as senior vice president, territory director, for retail banking at UMB Bank. Learn how Nicole supports our customers and her family by following her heart.
Tell me about your career with UMB?
I started my career at UMB in May 2006 as a branch manager. One of my friends recommended I apply for a job at UMB when I was ready for a new challenge after working from home as a financial advisor while homeschooling my four kids for six years.
I started working in Ballwin in the St. Louis area and moved around to several different branches as I grew in my career. I knew I wanted to become a leader, so I always looked for new opportunities. One opportunity led me back to my hometown of Ferguson, Missouri, where I took on the challenge of managing a larger group of associates.
After learning from this team, I was able to move on to a regional manager role and then my current role as a territory director.
What does your role consist of now?
I help ensure the customer is at the center of every decision we make. I constantly challenge my team to think about how an idea or project might affect our clients. It is important I help solve for any potential negative outcome before we move forward with a decision.
I also work with our customers on a day-to-day basis, which I love. I really enjoy this part, as I hear firsthand how our products and services are impacting them and learn what we can do better. We can make better decisions and provide more robust recommendations by being connected and tuned in.
What’s one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned while working at UMB?
Be authentic. Part of my job is to inspire my teams to drive results and support our customers, which means I am not effective if I come across as fake or insincere.
For me this means I lead with my heart and always do what I believe to be morally and ethically correct rather than worrying about what others would do. When I first started unpacking this lesson, it was so freeing. I realized I can be my genuine self, drive results and have successful teams. At UMB, we always do what’s right, and this resonates with me as I try every day to be my authentic self and support my teams.
How do you recommend someone start their financial wellness path?
First, it is never too late to start. There are several small steps everyone can take to reach their goals, like opening a savings and checking account and establishing a budget.
Conducting annual reviews with customers to set their financial goals is one of my favorite parts of the job. In these financial reviews, we look at their entire financial picture, so I can help determine the best path for them to achieve their goals.
Lean on your banker’s expertise to help guide you through this process. This is what we’re here for, and we love knowing we make a difference in people’s lives.
How do you like to spend your free time?
I love to spend time with my husband and family. My husband and I enjoy riding sand dunes and going off-roading together. I have four kids and a grandson with another on the way! I love spending time around the family game table with all of them, so I can let my competitive side out.
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