Associate Spotlight: Angela Stewart, Sr. VP, Director of Consumer Banking
Angela shares her career journey and offers advice for success...
Tell us about your journey to your current position as Senior Vice President, Director of Consumer Banking.
When I graduated from college in 1995, I was going to teach speech and Spanish. I almost chose English, but I decided on Spanish because it’s an elective, and I thought students would want to be in the class because they got to choose it. Ultimately, I decided teaching wasn’t for me, so for four or five years I worked in real estate and did a little call center work. I was in a small town, so I was even a newspaper reporter for a while!
When I was in my late 20s, I moved to Kansas City and started working nights and weekends at a restaurant. A friend of mine worked at a regional bank, and I thought being a banker would provide more stable hours. So, getting into banking was accidental almost: I knew somebody. I interviewed, and the bank was willing to train me. I stayed there for 17 years, working my way up from an assistant manager to branch manager to regional manager and then spent a brief time as a private banker. And now I’ve been at Country Club Bank for about five years.
What attracted you to Country Club Bank after nearly two decades at a regional bank?
I didn’t find working as a private banker as rewarding as working with internal people. I feel like working with internal associates is a strength of mine. So, I saw this role as allowing me to get back to helping people inside the bank develop their talent and be happy and fulfilled. My job could be considered a four-legged stool: sales, service, operations and leadership.
Culturally, too, the things that are important to me align with the values of Country Club Bank.
My one hesitation with joining Country Club Bank is that it’s smaller than the institution I had been with. But in talking with folks at the bank and learning more about it, I thought, “Wow! You do that? You do that? And you do that too?” It was amazing to me that Country Club Bank does pretty much everything the larger institution I was at did. I was very impressed. I couldn't believe everything Country Club Bank does. One of the differentiators—and this was the part I was excited about—is there's a lot less people. So, I was going to be able to know those people—and that's important to me.
Going into the interviews, there was a lot I didn't know and understand about Country Club Bank. I think that's where it's really important to have a conversation, to just explore and know that anytime you're visiting with someone, you're interviewing them too.
Now that you’re here, what continues to excite you about what you do?
I think it's such a neat opportunity I have to hire entry-level people, like the way I started some 20 years ago, and then help those people recognize their talent and potential. There's a lot of promotional opportunity within my division. I consider my division the hunting ground for other divisions of the bank because we have amazing talent, and we need to promote from within. If we don't, they're going to go elsewhere.
What does it take to be successful at Country Club Bank and build a career here?
It’s really important to make connections and get to know people and other lines of business—and I often encourage my team to do that. Let other people here know what you are interested in. For one thing, if you ever need something, it’s always good to know that person before you have to make an ask of them. That makes your day-to-day easier. If you go to a staff meeting, don’t just run in and out. Grab some coffee and visit for a while. You never know who you might connect with. Banking is a really small world. You might find out that you have additional connections to people.
Besides off-the-cuff meetings, I encourage people to be strategic and plan meetings with other lines of business so you can understand more about what the bank does. You might have some preconceived notion about what a different department or division is. And then you go meet with someone in that division and discover it isn’t at all what you thought it was. Down the road, the information and insights you get from these meetings could help you out with your career.
Also, don’t overlook the opportunity to get to know other associates through volunteer opportunities.