Sarah Suitor

Suitor

Commercial relationship manager, vice president, Paducah Bank

Age: 37

Education: Master of Business Administration (MBA), Murray State University - Paducah; bachelor of science in business administration, double major - finance and marketing, Auburn University - Auburn, Alabama.

Some of Suitor's professional accomplishments include:

n One of the top recruited female tennis players in the nation when graduated high school, with a national ranking in singles in the top 50 and the top 10 in doubles; earned full tennis scholarship to Auburn University and maintained on the athletic honor roll all four years.

n Professional of the Year by Paducah Professional Women, 2017.

n Most Valuable Banker award San Diego Inland, Union Bank, 2009 - Quarter 4.

A few of the organizations she has been involved in:

n Merryman House board of directors, Aug. 2015 - Aug. 2019.

n Paducah Professional Women, 2015-present.

n Business advocacy committee, Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce, 2012-present.

What is the biggest challenge for a young leader in today's workplace?

I believe that the biggest challenge in the workplace today for a young leader is how to properly navigate the transition of wealth and turnover of the established work force to the next generation; how to help softening the blow of evolution in long-established companies and minimizing the effect of change. Today's workplace is at a place of unchartered territory and transition with Baby Boomers retiring. According to what I have learned in PCBS by reading the book Exit, in approximately the next 3-5 years, 75 percent of businesses are going to transition from one generation to another with approximately $4 trillion to change hands. I have experienced this in my industry in the lending side to have younger generations buying into businesses as Baby Boomers retire.

We are all experiencing this transition within our own companies as young professionals are taking the positions of employees that have 20-plus years of experience. In many cases filling the shoes of these retiring employees has proven to be a difficult task as they have built relationships and trust with clients and coworkers that isn't easy to transition.

In my industry it is relationships that have been lifelong in many cases and we must spend time and build rapport to be successful with these transitions. At the same time, we must take as much time as we possibly can to learn from our more seasoned and experienced co-workers so we can take in as much of the knowledge as we can that they have learned over time. I try to be involved in as many conversations and meetings as I possibly can to learn from my co-workers so I can continue that level of expertise for our clients. We must also work to blend the fast-paced technology based of young professionals to the established and more experienced professionals. In addition, it is exciting that women continue to be recognized and have an impact on the business world than we ever have before. This all leads to opportunities for your leaders that we need to embrace and take advantage of in our professional careers.

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?

A vital leadership characteristic that I believe every leader should possess is integrity. Ethical behavior and honestly are the cornerstones of professionalism and are necessary for leaders to earn the trust and respect of their organization; which includes their team members, senior management, customers, suppliers, and peers. When a leader holds this characteristic, they can create teamwork and collaboration among the team that can truly lead change and shape the future. Integrity to me in a leader exhibits high ethical standards of personal conduct. They are honest and open with others and follow through and keep commitments.

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

In order to continue to grow and develop as a leader, I focus on personal and professional growth. It is incredibly important to me and primarily I accomplish this through continuous learning. I graduated college in four years with a double major in finance and marketing to try to maximize the opportunity and time that I was there under a full scholarship. Then in San Diego, I was accepted into a 12-month banking industry leading management training program which built my solid base of banking experience.

A couple of years after I had finished that and had been in my position at Union Bank, I sought out further opportunities to grow with my bank's support to study and pass my Series 6, Series 63 and California Life Insurance License to become a licensed banker.

This added to my skillset and expertise to manage my client's financial needs even better.

A few years after that, I moved back to Paducah and had an opportunity to obtain my MBA through Murray State University's Paducah campus. It was an 18-month cohort that along with about 30 other professionals took classes on nights and weekends to achieve my MBA. Then, in 2015, I had been back in Paducah a few years after being gone a decade so decided to grow and develop my knowledge about Paducah and was accepted into Leadership Paducah's Class 29. It was then that I had a reenergized passion and devotion to the community that I grew up in. Then in 2016, Paducah Bank presented me with an opportunity to join the only locally-owned financial institution where it became evident that I knew I could grow and continue to strive to reach my full professional potential both in the financial services industry and what I wanted to accomplish for this community. It was a perfect parallel.

After my move to Paducah Bank, the director of commercial, Tom Clayton, recommended me to enroll in a graduate banking program. I enrolled in the Pacific Coast Banking School in Seattle and it has contributed to my industry specific professional growth to help me continue grow as a leader. I have just begun my third and final year and will earn a graduate level certificate in the business of banking as well as an executive leadership certificate from the prestigious Foster School of Business at the University of Washington. Ultimately these building blocks of knowledge along with my 14 years of experience in the financial services industry will help my business acumen to better serve my customers' financial needs and help me personally continue to grow and develop as a leader.

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