In our series on Women In Finance, we speak of women who are leaders in the Finance industry. Wall Street and Finance used to be an all-white boys club”. Great progress has been made and this has changed a lot recently. Of course, despite the progress, we still have a lot more work to do to achieve parity. According to CNBC, less than 17 per cent of senior positions in investment banks are held by women. The key question asked to all the leading Women in Finance is:
“In your opinion or experience, which 3 things can be done by a) individuals b) companies and c) society to support the movement towards greater gender parity in the finance industry?”
In this article, we speak of Jodi Delahunt Hubbell of First Interstate Bank.
In her words, “The progress we’ve seen is born from the tenacity of brave women, women who don’t take “no” for an answer. Strident and true, these women know they have something to give, and they make it happen. Progress is also exhibited by men who see the value women bring to the table in terms of a different perspective. Some of that movement can be attributed to people reacting to studies showing how women on a board move the bottom line.”
Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Banking/Finance field?
I came into banking by accident. After I earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration I was hired as a management trainee in Portland, Oregon. I started in banking to learn about other businesses, but I’ve stayed because of the diverse nature of the job. The leadership training I’ve received has helped me grow and learn how to help others grow. I’ve been in banking for over 30 years and learned from every role I’ve been in. I was excited to join First Interstate Bank almost two years ago, not only for the opportunity to bring together all of my skills and experiences as the COO but because First Interstate “walks the walk” around community banking and taking care of employees. Other banks talk about it in their marketing, but First Interstate really does it. Contributing 2% of net income before taxes (NIBT) back into the communities we serve really makes me feel good about our culture and values.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away what you took out of that story?
I was six or seven years into my career and had achieved the role of branch manager when the bank I was at reorganized and reposted the district manager jobs. I thought I should at least apply to the management team would know I was interested in that role for the future. It was a stretch and I knew it — I didn’t think I would get hired. I still remember when the regional president told me. I thought he’d asked me to breakfast to let me down easy and give me a pep talk, but instead, he told me I was hired, and I almost choked on my toast. I went from branch manager to a VP at age 28 because I took a risk and stretched. I believe this served as a key factor in propelling me to where I am today.
I like roles where I am challenged to grow, where I’m stretching. We’ve all heard the statistics — women apply for a job when they feel they meet 100% of the criteria while men usually apply after meeting about 60%. I share this a lot with our teams: you need to take control of your career and put yourself up for consideration. Sometimes you’ll get jobs that you’re scared of, but that’s how you can push yourself. A lot of people want to be plucked out of where they are and handed their dream job, but that isn’t realistic. You have to make your own way and let people know what you want to do. Even if I hadn’t been hired for that district manager job I know I would have done the right thing by letting management know my aspirations.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
At First Interstate we’re currently in the middle of several transformative initiatives. In an effort to create scalable, standardized processes to ensure that clients receive a consistent, exceptional experience, we’re taking a fresh look at our consumer and commercial loan processes. We are also working on creating clear and defined roles for our team members, with clear career paths. Our people are what make it all work. If they understand expectations and their talent is optimized, they will take care of clients and help create the best experience possible.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I’ve been in banking for over 30 years, and many banks talk about being a community bank, closely tethered to the needs of their community and committed to supporting those efforts. But First Interstate evidences this commitment through action. Let me explain. First Interstate gives generously and gives often to the communities we call home, but this philanthropy doesn’t simply arrive in the form of donation checks. It’s true, as I mentioned earlier, that we commit 2% of NIBT annually to charitable giving, letting our market leaders decide how it will be spent. But more importantly, our dedicated team of impassioned volunteers are the first to show up and lend a hand at community events. We have such a strong volunteer presence, in fact, that nonprofit organizations in our footprint have consistently commented that First Interstate is at the top of their volunteer call list — because they know we consistently say, “Yes, we’d love to lend a hand.” Showing up in a big way — financially or through volunteer efforts — is one of the things that makes me most proud to work at First Interstate.
I joined First Interstate right after the Bank of the Cascades acquisition, and we’ve completed three additional ones since. When I talk to employees at these acquired banks, they are excited about First Interstate’s commitment to the community and sometimes surprised that we really do what we say we’re going to do. Once our market leadership saw that we put the power in their hands to allocate donations and sponsorships according to the unique needs of their communities, they were blown away. First Interstate stands out in all aspects of our business, from philanthropy to acquisitions, because we do what we say we’re going to do.
Wall Street and Finance used to be an “all-white boys club”. This has changed a lot recently. In your opinion, what caused this change?
I wouldn’t say that it’s changed a lot. I think it’s changing. But how many CEOs of the top 25 banks are women?
The progress we’ve seen is born from the tenacity of brave women, women who don’t take “no” for an answer. Strident and true, these women know they have something to give, and they make it happen.
Progress is also exhibited by men who see the value women bring to the table in terms of a different perspective. Some of that movement can be attributed to people reacting to studies showing how women on a board move the bottom line.
Sponsorship and organized leadership development is another key factor, which is different from mentoring. Organizations are adopting sponsorship and leadership development programs to specifically pair women and minorities with higher-level men to sponsor them in their careers and ensure that senior leaders are aware of rising stars. Jobs, especially senior-level jobs, are most often filled by word of mouth. So for a long time, when people were sitting around a room and talking about a job opening, the only names they were bringing up were the people they knew, who were most likely other white men. Well-run sponsorship and leadership development programs are about making talent known within a company and having a senior-level person advocate for you. In the bigger picture, this helps break down silos and facilitates cross-pollination of talent by making hiring managers and decision-makers more aware of the qualified people within the company.
Of course, despite the progress, we still have a lot more work to do to achieve parity. According to this report in CNBC, less than 17 per cent of senior positions in investment banks are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a) individuals b) companies and/or c) society to support this movement going forward?
1) Adopt a maternity and paternity leave policy for employees and build a culture that encourages and supports using the policy.
2) Create career paths for women and men who choose to have children to re-enter the workforce after taking time off — whether that is six months or six years. A great employee is worth it.
3) Implement a formal sponsorship program to give traditionally underserved populations entering the workforce (for this example, women) the opportunity to develop working relationships with senior-level leaders. This also gives senior-level leaders an official platform to advocate for high-potential individuals.
You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non-intuitive things one should do to become more financially literate, what would you say? Can you please give a story or example for each?
Although I’ve chosen not to have children, I’d advise any young person to follow these guidelines:
1) Know where your money goes. How much do you spend on coffee and streaming services, for example?
2) Create a budget. My dad was in the military and both he and my mom understood the value of money. I’d watch my mom take money out of the bank every week and put it into envelopes for each budget item, and when the money was gone, it was gone — credit wasn’t an option. We knew where everything was going, and that structure taught me how to understand finances and, by extension, how to live within my means.
3) Contribute to your 401(k). As soon as you can, right from the beginning of your first job, contribute to your 401(k), even if retirement seems too far into the future.
4) Every time you get a raise, don’t raise your standard of living. Instead, increase your savings and increase your 401(k) contributions. Live below your means as much as possible.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
It goes back to my parents. They were determined to raise a strong, independent woman, and that wasn’t common during the ’70s — especially when you consider that they had met when they were 20. My dad in particular wanted to make sure I wasn’t dependent on anyone and raised me to make decisions. At some point in my childhood, my dad started talking to me about his job, leadership and work issues. Then, he did something curious — he asked for my opinion. I was exposed to challenges related to leadership development, personnel management and people struggling with performance issues at a very young age. It gave me a jump-start in my career and set me up to be an effective leader.
Can you please give us your favourite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving; to reach the port of heaven we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it — but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.” That’s my career — I was a military brat and an only child growing up. I like change, and by circumstances was forced to learn how to change. As a result, I’m constantly trying to improve myself.
I also love the quote by Sheryl Sandberg, “Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder.” My career is proof that sometimes you have to go backward to move forward. Or, put another way, it’s good advice to take opportunities as they present themselves — you never know what untapped opportunity might round out your experience.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I was recently on a Delta flight and saw the commercial from their “Close the Gap” campaign featuring children from all over the world and thought the commentary was spot on. Wanting to learn more, I looked it up afterwards: “When we’re born, we’re more alike than different. Then somewhere along the way we start to believe the more distant we are from each other, the more different we must be from each other. And it’s only when we venture out into the world that we realize all the things that we share.” It concludes by saying we’re not just bringing people together; we’re showing that we’re not that different in the first place.
In the U.S., only 36% of Americans have a valid passport. If you don’t or cannot travel, and you do not interact with people from different cultures or backgrounds on a regular basis, you’re only seeing what is portrayed in the media.
I would love to see a movement take shape that encourages everyone to spend time with people from other cultures, through travel or simply reaching out to new faces within our own communities. Understanding that there are many barriers to travel, even a conversation or a meal with a neighbour can help expand our worldviews. Food has an amazing way of breaking down barriers and bringing people together. If we start more conversations and share more meals, we’ll find we have more in common than we realize. We’re much more alike than we are different.