Leadership Spotlight: Jolyn Kanning, Chief Audit Executive at First Interstate

October 17th, 2018

Jolyn Kanning

For National Business Women’s Week we spoke with Jolyn Kanning, Chief Audit Executive about her career and women in banking. Jolyn joined First Interstate in 1997 and has served as chief audit executive since 2010. Jolyn attended Pacific Coast Banking School and earned her BS in Agriculture Business from Montana State University – Bozeman.

Growing up, what was your dream job and why?

[Kanning] When I was really young, I remember telling people I wanted to be a mind reader when I grew up.  If only I could have figured that out!  On a more serious note, I grew up on a cattle ranch and always wanted to work in Agriculture.  I went into banking with the intention of working in Ag. Lending.

What do you think is the most substantial barrier to female leadership?

[Kanning] I think many women underestimate themselves and hesitate to pursue opportunities because they think they aren’t qualified. This is one barrier that can be overcome by encouraging and supporting each other to speak up, reach out, or try something new. 

Who is a woman that inspires you and why?

[Kanning] I’m lucky to call several successful business women my friends and they each inspire me in different ways.  However, one constant is they embrace who they are.  They don’t apologize for their choices, they learn from their missteps, and always give it their all.

What are some traits you think great leaders possess?

[Kanning] Great leaders don’t forget the basics and, for me, the basics include honesty and kindness.  You can’t build trust without honesty and kindness goes a long way. You can be tough and strong as a leader yet still be kind. 

What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?

[Kanning] Surround yourself with great people, they only make you better.  I’m fortunate to work with some of the best and they have taught me more than I could have imagined.