When I reflect on my career at WSFS Bank, which started more than 30 years ago, I often think about the connection between the Bank’s growth and my own. The two are so intertwined, it is difficult for me to imagine anything transpiring differently on this journey that WSFS and I have been on together.
My career with WSFS began as a floating teller. While I didn’t realize it at the time, this role would serve as a carbon copy for how my future experiences with the Bank would unfold. Being a floating teller allowed me the opportunity to meet and work with, and for, a wide variety of people, learning something from each of them as a young professional looking to forge a career in retail banking.
Over the years, as WSFS has grown its retail operations and presence in Delaware and the Greater Philadelphia region, nearly doubling in size, I have been involved in every new venture the retail bank has embarked on, continuing on my path to meet, work with and learn from our Associates and Customers every step of the way.
Through these experiences, hard work and plenty of grit, I’ve developed my own career as a woman in leadership, and now lead WSFS’ retail banking team. And I truly believe I’ve arrived at this point in my career by always being true to myself, following my instincts and most importantly always remembering one simple phrase.
“Shari, be who you are.”
Seems simple, right? On the surface, yes. But being “who you are” requires a commitment not only to your own values and goals, but having the confidence in knowing that whatever stage your career is in, you are in your role and have a seat at the table because you deserve to be. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t spend time reflecting to ensure I’m living up to this commitment.
As I’ve grown my career and assumed leadership roles, I’ve also had opportunities to grow as a mentor for women as they grow their own careers. Here’s what I tell them to focus on.
Be Who You Are
It deserves to be said again and sits at the top of the list.
Have Professional Courage
Be willing to have difficult conversations about your career path, with your employees and with your superiors.
Do the Hard Work
I’ve worked side-by-side with WSFS Associates at every retail level and it gives me credibility when I ask them to do something that is hard. Roll up your sleeves and do the same with your peers, employees and superiors.
Failure is NOT an Option
When you are uncomfortable, dig in and work harder to get the job done. Grit and determination will take you far.
Believe in Your Leadership Style
I believe in putting the needs of our Associates first and in helping them develop and perform as highly as possible. My teams know it, and they know they can be transparent with me.
Embrace Your Innate Gifts as a Woman
Whatever your gifts are, leverage them. Being supportive or nurturing doesn’t mean you can’t have tough conversations.
The final piece of advice I give is to always speak up, to be honest and open. Let your voice be heard and listen to the voices that come to you for guidance.
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