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Insights and inspiration from the BAI Emerging Leaders Network

Feb 13, 2020 / Consumer Banking

In the third installment of our series on the BAI Emerging Leaders Network, we’re back with eight more profiles of standout young leaders who are already making a difference in the financial services industry.

Read on to learn who inspires them, how they aim to make an impact on the industry, and what they see as the biggest challenges ahead in financial services. (Meet more participants in the BAI Emerging Leaders Network in part one and part two of our series.)

Anjali_Bivek_CircleAnjali Bivek

Vice President Retail Strategy, Truist
Atlanta, Georgia

What are you most passionate about personally and in business?
Every day, we are inundated with new promises of technology, trending reports, and forwarded emails of “Here’s a cool new thing.” I love learning what clever minds in my industry have developed. My passion lies in how to distill that information, remove the noise and find what resonates with a consumer base. How does this “thing” make life better or enjoyable and what is the trade-off that a customer is willing to make for that product – i.e. money, time and/or social media likes.

It’s fascinating to watch a product that on paper is a surefire win but when publicly launched, does not resonate with the market.  The passion is not only finding the next win, but understanding customer needs and wants, and customer and business tradeoffs, while leveraging technology to create enriching value propositions.

How do you relax?
In a world where something is always happening — a deadline looming at work, a family event or holiday, social commitments, or home renovations — it is important to take myself out of the regular day-to-day moments.

Getting outside in nature and truly celebrating the moment helps me relax. Hiking in the mountains during the colorful fall weather, enjoying a warm vacation during the winter, or bike riding on a trail keeps me grounded. I’m fortunate to have access to trails and parks while living in a major city. Truly enjoying the moments that were created by nature relaxes my mind, body, and spirit.

Christopher_Dias_CircleChristopher Dias

Cash Management Advisor, Assistant Vice President, Enterprise Bank
Lowell, Massachusetts

Why did you get into financial services?
I have always loved numbers. Math was my favorite subject growing up. In high school, I started taking a lot of accounting classes, and I also helped run the account lab at the school, which took care of the school store. I thought I was going to become a CPA, but in college that changed when I began taking finance courses. I became influenced by the markets, and I enjoyed the constant change day to day. At that point, I thought I was going to be a financial analyst, but then the recession of 2008–2009 happened. It seemed that everywhere I applied, no one was hiring people with little experience, so I got into banking through a suggestion of a family friend.

In addition, I have always wanted to help people and businesses grow financially. I wanted to be a trusted advisor that would be able to help people and businesses be successful financially and create solutions so that they could become more efficient in their business practices as well.

Who inspires you?
My dad, Gabriel Dias, inspires me. My dad grew up with very little on the island of Terceira, which is an island in the Azores of Portugal. He has always been willing to give up everything for his family, which has allowed me to be where I am today. He may have had his struggles, but never strayed away from being who he is. He is an outstanding gentleman who is hardworking and dedicated in everything he does. He is the best dad that I could ask for, and I cannot thank him enough for everything he has done for me and my brother. I can only hope that I one day can be as good as a dad as he is.

Crystal_Fugate_CircleCrystal Fugate

Vice President, Distribution Risk Oversight, PNC
Charlotte, North Carolina

How do you think you can make an impact at your organization?
Change is constant in our industry and in our daily lives. By focusing on enabling the right changes and collaborating with others both inside and outside of my organization, I hope to transform the work we do and ultimately make banking easier for everyone.

Use three words to describe yourself.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t take these from my StrengthsFinder Signature Themes:

1) Learner. I have a strong desire to learn, and I strive to continuously improve. I thrive in dynamic work environments where I am asked to take on a project assignment and am expected to learn a lot about a new subject matter in a short period of time.

2) Achiever. I have a great deal of stamina and consistently work hard and draw satisfaction from being productive.

3) Futuristic. I am inspired by the future and thoughts of what could be. I see in detail what the future might hold, and this detailed picture keeps pulling me forward.

Corey_Goedde_CircleCorey Goedde

LOB Senior Business Analyst, Fifth Third Bank
Cincinnati, Ohio

How do you think you can make an impact at your organization?
I can make an impact at my organization by guiding our bankers towards the next best discussion with a customer. Utilizing our expansive data and analytics, I can provide bankers with insights about where customers are in their journeys and the types of conversations they could have to best enhance the customers’ experience. This can expand to the industry as a whole, as banking continues to shift away from product-based recommendations and more towards enhanced customer relationships.

Who inspires you?
My parents are my biggest inspirations. They have set me up for success by showing me how to live with the right values and by demonstrating the key characteristics to be successful.

Savannah_harwood_CircleSavannah Harwood

Structured Finance & Capital Analyst II, BBVA USA
Birmingham, Alabama

What is the biggest risk you’ve taken with your career and what were the results?
At the beginning of 2019, our CFO kicked off a six-month-long Agile competition for the entire finance department to encourage teams to find tangible ways to incorporate Agile methodologies into business as usual. 

Being pro-change is never a popular stance, especially when being pro-change involves large amounts of time and effort to implement a whole new way of working. Nonetheless, I believed that Agile could truly improve our team, so I decided to risk my relationships with my coworkers, risk the chance implementing Agile made everything worse instead of better, and risk the time investment being disproportionate to the improvements we may see.

My team won the competition, and we have successfully implemented many Agile methodologies into business as usual, including weekly stand-ups, retrospectives, and kanban boards. Winning the competition demonstrated to me that the org chart does not dictate leadership opportunities and that change starts with each of us.

Who would you most like to grab a cup of coffee with?
I would be delighted to pick Emanuel Derman’s brain. His book “My Life as a Quant: Reflections on Physics and Finance” sparked a passion in me for financial modeling, influenced my academic pursuits in college and subsequently directed my career interests. I have great admiration for people who find what they were put on this earth to do and steward those skills well, and I think Emanuel Derman is the perfect example of just that.

Valeria-McKeeValeria McKee

Assistant Vice President, Senior Operations Auditor
Farmers & Merchants Bank
Los Angeles, California

What are you most passionate about personally and in business?
I am most passionate about building relationships. Relationships help to break down silos to ensure collaborative efforts are put forth to reach common goals. Community is essential to the success of any organization, for both employee and customer satisfaction. I developed the following personal leadership statement to demonstrate my passion for building relationships: “Leadership is committed to putting people first by building relationships that support and celebrate individual and team growth and development.”

How do you relax?
What helps me to relax is working out. I know crazy, right? I love to run and just feel the earth beneath my feet and breathe in clean air. It helps center me and puts everything into perspective.

Annie _Rucker_CircleAnnie Rucker

Instructional Design Specialist, Credit Union of Colorado
Denver, Colorado

What do you see as the top challenges and/or opportunities in the industry?
As consumer behaviors continue to evolve, our ability to respond to and maintain the balance between safety and security vs. convenience will continue to be a significant challenge. I think figuring out how we can meet people where they are at in terms of their financial needs is an exciting challenge for an industry as old as ours to take on.

Who would you most like to grab a cup of coffee with?
I recently watched the Brené Brown special “The Call to Courage” on Netflix. I’ve read her books and follow her on social media. I think her research around empathy and vulnerability, plus her great sense of humor would make for an excellent coffee date.

Jacqueline-HengerJacqueline Henger

Consumer Services Project Manager, Regions Bank
Birmingham, Alabama

What are you looking for from your organization to keep you engaged and working for the company?
Opportunity and flexibility. I need to know that my company is going to put me in the right role to continuously learn and sharpen my professional skills, while also giving me the flexibility to choose my career path based on my strengths and interests.

Who would you most like to grab a cup of coffee with?
Nick Saban — and that’s not just because I’m an Alabama fan. I’d love to hear more about how he built “the process” that transformed Alabama into the football dynasty it is today. For example, what non-negotiable changes did he enforce and how can those apply to other industries, such as banking? 

Learn more about the BAI Emerging Leaders Network.

Profile series: part one and part two