STCU Commercial and Business Services Commercial Banking Manager
Number of employees you
What is STCU’s footprint in the Tri-Cities?
We have locations in the Southridge area of Kennewick, Queensgate area of Richland and will be opening our Pasco location on Road 68 soon. We also have a Home Loan division and my team, the Commercial and Business Services group, will soon be moving to our new location on Tucannon, just off Steptoe.
How did you come to this kind of work?
Like most, I’m an accidental banker. Two months after receiving my commercial pilot’s license, 9/11 happened. With no job and no hopes of getting one as a pilot, I had to move home and reset. The local bank was hiring for a teller, so I applied and, as they say, the rest is history.
My CEO said it best, we are in the business of making dreams come true. We get to help our community members open their first savings account, buy their first car, their first home, and, my specialty, start and grow their business.
What is commercial lending?
Commercial lending covers all the potential needs of the business, commercial real estate loans, construction loans, equipment loans, operating lines of credit and credit cards. We offer an entire suite of deposit products and services to help your business grow and operate efficiently and effectively.
What are the most interesting projects you see happening in the Tri-Cities?
The most important project right now is working together to get our community to Phase 2. It’s been great to see this community band together and support our business owners during this difficult time. Supporting businesses of all sizes during this time is crucial to reviving our local economy.
What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
Optimism. An optimistic, enthusiastic, positive leader can move an individual, a team, a business, a community, an industry further than any other trait. It cannot be faked and is incredibly contagious. A “can do attitude” will always get you where you want to go.
What is the biggest challenge facing managers today?
Balancing keeping our teams safe and healthy and trying to maintain some level of “business as usual” is an opportunity for leaders to stretch and think outside the box. Leading teams virtually and holding effective and efficient meetings is a new skill most leaders are rushing to figure out.
What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
Connect with your team. Say “good morning.” Say “good night.” It really is the little things that have the most impact. Set the tone for your team.
Who are your role models or mentors?
My parents really impacted me growing up. I grew up on a ranch in Eastern Oregon and there was always a lot to do and little for it to be done with. I learned to be resourceful, responsible and “get back on the horse.”
I also have a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for our CEO Ezra Eckhardt. We first met when I was working at Sterling Bank and he was the president. I had just been hired to start a new department for the bank. He walked into my office, sat down, and said “Rebekah, if there is anything I can do to help you be successful, just let me know”.
It was a similar message when he hired me to start the Commercial and Business Services group for STCU here in the Tri-Cities. Over the years I’ve watched Ezra lead his teams through a recapitalization and a merger at Sterling, and now Covid-19 at STCU. He handles change, connects and communicates with his team and efficiently leads the organization to success.
How do you keep your employees motivated?
I think you always need an element of “fun.” Work hard, stay focused, and don’t forget to have a little fun – oh, and celebrate the wins – all of them. You usually work just as hard for the little ones as you do the big ones.
How do you measure success in your workplace?
Is the team happy and successful? If they are, everything else is probably in line. Members are getting great service, business is coming in, goals are on track, individuals feel value in the work they are doing.
What do you consider your leadership style to be?
Coach and pacesetter. As a producing manager it’s important I lead by example. There isn’t anything I ask of my team that I’m not also doing myself. I set the course and invite them to join me, managing themselves and reaching out as needed.
How do you balance work and family life?
I love being a working mom, but I’m not going to lie, it can be a struggle. It’s never completely balanced. Some days your work gets the best of you, other days your family will. My strategy has always been to give whatever I’m doing 100% of my energy and attention. When at work, work. When with family, be with family. Focus on what’s in front of you.
What do you like to do when you are not at work?
Hang out with my family. We love being outdoors, hiking, biking, boating, skiing, etc. If the sun is out, we probably are too.
What’s your best time management strategy?
Have a plan, write it down, review it daily and adjust as needed. If I get buried in something and feel like I’m spinning my wheels, I’ll leave it and come back to it later. Sometimes it’s best to step away, regroup and try again.
Best tip to relieve stress?
Exercise. It’s amazing what a run or a row can do. Depending on the situation, it can clear my mind or help me really dig in and focus on a problem I’m trying to solve. Either way, I always feel better when I’m done.
What is your favorite podcast? Why was it meaningful to you?
I’m not sure if I can claim a favorite, there are a lot of good ones out there. However, a podcast I really enjoy is “How I Built this with Guy Raz.”
Guy interviews and uncovers the stories behind some of the greatest companies. It’s interesting to learn why they started, how they did it and what made them successful. Aside from getting a glimpse into the driving factors behind these companies, it’s also interesting to see that every company’s journey is different and there’s more than one way to build a successful business.
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