Power Women 2021: Heather Albright
SVP, Senior Relationship Manager – Middle Market, President of Arkansas Market Bank of America
What’s your secret to success?
Nothing beats hard work and doing your best to be prepared, especially when you experience the unexpected. Another big part of my success as the first female relationship manager in our middle market banking group and first female president in Arkansas is attributed to networking and building my brand not only externally but also internally. In my last position, a senior leader approached me and asked me to take on the president role because he knew I was ready to take on the additional responsibilities. Working with a mentor is also a great way to gain insight from others on how to advance your skills or your career. I still have mentors and meet with them on a regular basis to ask advice and their perspective on how to tackle different issues.
What attracted you to your career?
I was intrigued about banking and finance from a very early age. My parents worked in financial services, so it’s an industry that I naturally became familiar with and gravitated towards. I started in investment banking at Stephens but after a few months in the role, I discovered it wasn’t a long-term fit and decided to pursue graduate school. I continued to explore other options within finance and fell into this position at Bank of America.
How did you get started in your field?
I started in investment banking at Stephens and was also enrolled at the University of Central Arkansas to get my MBA. I worked during the day and was taking graduate courses at night. The advisor in the MBA program connected me and two other students to the credit analyst job opening at Bank of America, which was flagged by someone who had been through the same MBA program. When I went in for the interview, I felt an immediate connection to the team and, as it turns out, one member was in my same college sorority. I started the job in January 2005 after graduating in December 2004, already having connections with people who worked there.
What do you love best about what you do?
In both my job as Senior Relationship Manager and my role as President Arkansas, it’s all about building relationships. Good relationship managers are able to dive in and understand clients to help them think strategically. I thrive in environments where I can think consultatively, give advice and help customers and clients reach their financial goals. This means being familiar with not only financial products and services but also maintaining a continuous relationship to provide the solutions that adapt as their needs change. But it’s not all about offering a product or service to save them time or money. Sometimes it’s just about getting to know people, listening to their pain points and struggles and empathizing with them. As the president of Bank of America Arkansas, I also view this as an opportunity to help our community thrive in a challenging time. Along with my senior leaders, we’re driving and deploying the bank’s resources to address local social concerns to ensure we create economic opportunity and mobility, as well as build strong communities.
What advice would you give to a young woman starting her career?
What’s helped me get to where I am today is doing more than what is required in every role that I’ve held. In any role, there are extras that you can do to go above and beyond — things you don’t have to do but choose to do. There were opportunities to work overtime at Stephens, often on the weekend. At times they needed someone in the brokerage accounting team to test code, and I would raise my hand eager to find ways to get the system to break or show coders what went wrong or right. Not only did I love doing this, but it helped me add more value than the minimum that was required of me. It’s also really important to seek out mentors or someone that will be invested in your success. Early in my career, I waited for my manager to tell me what to put in my development plan. I later realized that it was my responsibility to take things on and to raise my hand for more training or opportunities. Ultimately it’s your responsibility to advocate for yourself, build out a plan and do the work it takes to get there.