For National Business Women’s Week we spoke with Lori Meyer, Director of Enterprise Program Management about her career and women in banking. Lori earned her BA in Psychology from Montana State University – Billings. She joined First Interstate Bank in 1997. Lori has worked in various areas of the bank, including Data Processing, Core Operations, Business Process Improvement, Strategy Management and IT Business Relationship Management. She recently moved into the role of Director of Enterprise Program Management where she is responsible for Enterprise Program Management, Data Governance and Decision Support & Analysis.
What is the best and worst decision you've made in your career?
If I go back and look at one defining point in my career to pin point as the “best decision” it would be moving out of a subsidiary technology company and coming to work for First Interstate Bank. Since then, I have had numerous opportunities to utilize and grow my skills. I have held a number of positions at First Interstate that allowed me to lead teams, to develop others, and to work on complex business problems. Most importantly it’s given me avenues to drive real value for the bank and to work with outstanding peers, employees and managers. Trying to determine a “worst” decision has proved difficult for me. There are some decisions I look back on and question, but all of those decisions led me to where I am today. They built up my character and resolve, taught me valuable lessons, and had a part in shaping who I am today as a leader.
Growing up, what was your dream job and why?
As a child my love of animals surpassed everything else. Between dogs, horses, and cats, the animals in my family far outnumbered the humans. Every stray in the neighborhood found a friend at my house—much to my parents’ displeasure. I spent a lot of time doctoring on our numerous animals. Additionally, my time in Vet Science studies during Junior High and High school with 4-H gave me the ability to work with local veterinarians. I spent lots of hours dreaming of my career as a vet and even started my college years as a pre-med major.
What do you think is the most substantial barrier to female leadership?
Stereotypes still exist for women in the work force; whether it is the belief that women are more emotional or that they are not as good at making sound decisions. I feel fortunate at First Interstate Bank that my leadership skills are recognized, and I’ve found many opportunities to succeed. Strong leaders find ways to knock barriers down no matter what they are.
Who is a woman that inspires you and why?
I have had the privilege of being exposed to some fabulous and talented women in my life and career. At a young age I remember feeling inspired reading about the accomplishments of Amelia Earhart and her courageous spirit. She broke through barriers and did not let gender stereotypes prevent her from being great and doing what she loved. Growing up, I have been and continue to be more inspired by many of the women in my own life. I am not sure I could choose just one: my mother who taught me what it means to truly love unconditionally; my friends who set amazing examples of what it means to be strong women today, balancing family and work; the women mentors I have had the privilege of working with at First Interstate who have generously taught me how to succeed as a professional.
How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?
Helping others be successful is such an important part of leadership. I am so thankful my job gives me great opportunities to do that regularly. Sometimes it comes in the form of coaching an employee, giving a well-deserved compliment, or assisting with prioritizing work. I am frequently able to help solve business problems and contribute to the development of different employees. By doing so, I get to be part of helping others succeed, and that is truly motivating for me.
Knowing what you know now, what would you tell your younger self to do differently?
Pay closer attention to where you spend your time, energy, and attention. Not all things that come at you are worth spending those valuable resources on. By doing so, more time, energy, and attention will be spent on what is truly important at work and in your personal life.
What are some traits you think great leaders possess?
Great leaders are generous with their knowledge, skills, and praise. They understand that different approaches are required for different people and situations. They are gracious to others with whom they interact. They hold employees accountable, but also know what motivates their team members and they put energy into doing so. Great leaders don’t take credit for the actions of others, but ensure the team is recognized for their hard work and success.
What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?
It is critical to know what you know and use it to benefit others and your company, but more important to know and acknowledge what you don’t know.