Today we are going to discuss and celebrate women's empowerment and the importance of female leadership in today's industry.
Speaker 1 (00:08):
Welcome to the Feeling is Mutual podcast. I'm your host Tracy Bedeker, Vice President of Marketing at First Federal Savings Bank. We are a community bank with a mutual charter. If you thought banking was boring, the feeling is mutual, but we're here to take the boring out of banking. In this podcast, we will bring our listeners real life stories and education on financial topics, and it's all going to be delivered in a quick, fun and interesting format. Today is March 8th and not only is it our very first podcast, but it just so happens to be International Women's Day. Today we are going to celebrate and discuss women's empowerment and the importance of female leadership in today's industry, and we have an amazing lineup of speakers to kick off our discussion. These ladies are power players. They are innovators, they are intelligent, they are thought leaders, community enthusiasts, and they are making history because they just happened to make up our very first all female, all female senior management team here at First Federal Savings Bank. How cool is that? We are going to get things rolling with introducing our very first female president and ceo here at First Federal Savings Bank. Konni Rodeghier. Konni, welcome. How are you?
Speaker 2 (01:49):
Thank you so much, Tracy. I am great and I am fortunate to be sitting among this leadership team of amazing women who I've worked with for years, some of them decades,
Speaker 1 (02:01):
And not many people can say decades, so that's wonderful. Tell us, what is your history here at the bank, Konni?
Speaker 2 (02:08):
I will reach my 30 year anniversary in 2023. I started here in the loan department, moved to management sales, a bank officer, then senior management president and ceo just a little over a year ago. Sometimes I was promoted. Sometimes I had to raise my hand and ask for additional responsibilities. I would tell any young women, don't expect opportunities to come to you. If you want something, ask for it.
Speaker 1 (02:36):
That is wonderful advice that our young leaders need to hear. Too often, women sit back and wait for opportunity to come to them and I agree with you Connie. You need to be confident and ask for what you want and more importantly, know that you are worthy too. Next, I'm going to talk to Dena Weber, who is our chief operating officer in Dena. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you too have longevity with the bank.
Speaker 3 (03:03):
That's right, Tracy. It'll be 30 years in June.
Speaker 1 (03:06):
That's wonderful. With all that experience and wisdom, I am most certain you could share your knowledge with other females on this topic. Dena, did you have a mentor in your career?
Speaker 3 (03:20):
I did. Tracy, I was lucky enough to have multiple mentors throughout my career. My first mentor happened to be female. This was at a point in my career where I was wanting to advance start a family and trying to navigate how to do both. She was a great example and support to me later, my primary mentor is I became a bank officer, was male, and while the perspective was different, the message was consistent. Listen, learn, ask questions and speak up.
Speaker 1 (03:48):
I am hearing you and both Konni mention as females, our voices need to be heard and I think that such powerful advice. What is the one key piece of advice your mentor gave you?
Speaker 3 (04:02):
I would say embrace change. It's inevitable, so always be open to change. A comment that my mentor shared and one that I've always carried with me was this, everything you know about banking today will change in some way over the next five years. I think that speaks a lot to the pace of change, not just in banking, but in everything that technology touches in our lives
Speaker 1 (04:25):
Embrace change. So true. Dena, I can only imagine the changes that you have seen throughout your career here, especially with technology. We have made so many advances since I started, so thank you very much, Dena. It was a pleasure talking to you and as long as we mention technology, I would like to chat with Leann Whitney, who is our chief information officer. Leann, since we are talking about women's empowerment, can you share a women's empowerment moment that inspired you?
Speaker 4 (04:58):
I sure can. Thanks for having me here today. Tracy. Actually, when I was nine years old, I was in a Girl scout troop. We provided a Girl Scout manual, which included all of the possible badges and how you could earn them. One such badge, even way back then was a technology badge with the assistance of my dad who worked in technology in the military, I learned binary code, which is computer programming. Then I proceeded to teach all of my fellow troop members. The fact that this badge even existed in Girl Scouts and my father's willingness to teach tech to his daughter empowered me to not even see gender-based
Speaker 1 (05:39):
Roles. It sounds like your dad was quite a mentor to you and I bet he's so proud of what you have accomplished so far. So Leann, with all those badges under your belt, what advice would you give as a mentor?
Speaker 4 (05:54):
I would say when choosing your career, choose to do what you love and do it well.
Speaker 1 (05:57):
I couldn't agree more. Leann. Life's too short to be unhappy in your career. I find it so rewarding that even our family members can give us hope and motivation. Speaking of family and the importance of their mentorship, we are happy to talk with Tracy Ritko, who is our chief financial officer. Tracy, we are talking empowerment and mentoring today. Who inspired you in your career? Actually, my grandmother did with only a grade school education. She taught herself the skills to become a bookkeeper for a small local financial institution. She really encouraged me to take an accounting class in high school. She was the inspiration for me to become an accountant in the banking industry. On the topic of mentors, did you have any mentors that made a significant impact in your life? I did. I have throughout my career gravitated towards different mentors, primarily female.
Speaker 1 (07:01):
I have had several mentors during different stages of my career. I find having one keeps you motivated and helps keep you focused on the opportunities available to you. Great advice, and I think what I'm hearing you say is no matter where you're at in your career, whether it's a CFO or a person just starting out in the industry, we must continue to learn and especially from those that we respect and trust. Thank you so much, Tracy. Now onto another Tracy. I want to introduce Tracy Tunnell, who is the chief lending officer here at First Federal Savings Bank. Welcome, Tracy. I bet you provide a lot of advice to home buyers. What advice would you give women starting out in this journey?
Speaker 5 (07:48):
Thanks, Tracy. My advice is to be eager to learn and learn as much as possible. Be positive. Challenge yourself and always give a hundred percent. Make sure to take initiative to ask for opportunities. One of the best things you can do is network with others and find a few good mentors.
Speaker 1 (08:04):
I agree. Networking is so important. Not only can we help them, they can help us too. True. You know, it's important to go to all those events and network as much as you can. Tracy, what do you look for in a mentor?
Speaker 5 (08:17):
I always tend to gravitate towards someone I can trust and someone I can confide in. My mentors do tend to be women with similar backgrounds and goals. I look for someone who's passionate about their job, who offers guidance and encouragement.
Speaker 1 (08:30):
Okay. Well, when it comes to mentorship, what I'm hearing is that we have that trust. Thank you so much, Tracy. What a great conversation. So we're going to wrap things up with one more question for our president and ceo, Konni Rodeghier. Konni, you kicked our podcast off, but now we are going to let you leave us with some more pearls of wisdom. Why is it important that women hold leadership
Speaker 2 (08:58):
Positions? Well, Tracy, we know that women are underrepresented at the executive levels of leadership and on corporate boards. In our industry here in banking, women hold the majority of entry level positions, but a minority of the highest level positions. But fortunately not here at First Federal, every one of us here in this room has been in industry meetings and peer groups in a room full of men. I love the story of when Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was asked, when will there be enough women on the Supreme Court? Her answer when there are nine, if you're not aware, nine is all of them. I think what she was saying there was that gender shouldn't be a factor. It shouldn't matter. If the court's been made up of nine men, then nine women should be equally as possible. I think about this leadership team when I think of that quote where a talented driven group of women were fortunate that our predecessors mentored us and prepared us for these roles, but in the end, we got here because we're the best person for the job.
Speaker 1 (09:59):
Well, there you have it. Truer words, were never spoken. Thank you, Konni, and thank you to all of our amazing speakers for sharing all of your wonderful advice on International Women's Day and of course to all our listeners, thank you for being a part of our very first podcast. We look forward to bringing you more great topics and speakers. Have a wonderful international Women's Day.