Women You Can Bank On

They’re part of the lending process for many successful businesses

Remember those old stereotypes regarding women and money management? Yeah, neither do we, and neither do the four women we are profiling in this issue. These women have not just touched the glass ceiling in the traditionally male-dominated banking industry, they have shattered it by becoming presidents and vice presidents, overseeing millions (and billions) of dollars on a daily basis. They have been part of the lending process for some of the most successful businesses in San Antonio, and they have watched as customers have gone from conducting financial transactions via bank teller to conducting many of those same transactions via Smartphone. As part of their responsibilities, these women issue credit to others, but we thought it was time to give them some well-deserved credit too.

Rhonda Calvert
President of San Antonio Market,
Comerica Bank

When you step into Rhonda Calvert’s office, one of the first things you notice is a small toy metal safe sitting on her credenza. It is a souvenir from a day that changed her life.
“I was in elementary school, and a local bank president who attended our church took my family on a tour of the bank and the bank vault,” recalls Calvert fondly. “I decided right then that I was going to go into banking when I grew up.”
Not many women grow up to be what they dreamed of in elementary school, but Calvert was determined. The San Antonio native earned a BBA in finance with honors from UT, and summers found her working as a bank receptionist. Following graduation, she accepted her first position with what is now Bank of America as a credit analyst. Today, she is the market president of a 164-year-old $64 billion financial institution.
Although it may be more than a century old, Comerica is new to the San Antonio market. The company purchased Sterling Bank in 2011, and in April of 2013, Calvert assumed her roles as market president and head of the business bank, and is responsible for overseeing the wealth and retail bank as well. In addition to those job descriptions, she is challenged with building the Comerica Bank brand in the San Antonio market. It is a challenge she is excited to meet. “It’s such a great opportunity to create and build something and then in five years to be able to look at it and say, ‘Wow! We did that,’” she explains.
That doesn’t mean that it isn’t hard work. Calvert spends countless hours building and fostering relationships and finding new opportunities for the bank’s business clients to grow and flourish.

She has put a strong team in place that shares both her drive and commitment, and together they go above and beyond to provide the full capabilities that a $65 billion bank can offer. “The best feeling a banker can have is when their clients are successful,” she says happily. “That’s what makes me smile.”
A large part of why her clients’ successes make her so happy is because successful businesses are a boon to the city that Calvert knows, loves and in which she is deeply entrenched. The former Junior League president says that community service is her passion, and it is how she spends her free time. In addition to her 25 years of service with the Junior League, she has the distinction of being only the second female president of the Downtown Rotary Club, an organization she joined for its “Service above Self” motto. She is very active in Leadership San Antonio, having co-chaired the steering committee, and, as a member of the Greater San Antonio Chamber board of directors, she is chairing the Women Business Leaders luncheon to be held in March 2014.
Of course, no San Antonio native can escape the lure of Fiesta, and Calvert is no exception. She is a member of the Battle of Flowers organization and chaired the famous parade in 2012. As the Fiesta Commission presidential appointee, Calvert brought back the Miss Fiesta pageant, but with one caveat: It would no longer be a beauty pageant, but rather what she deems an “accomplished young woman” pageant.
An accomplished woman herself, Calvert is proof that elementary school dreams do come true with hard work and determination. Her advice to young women everywhere? “Find your passion!”

Andrea Smith
San Antonio Corporate Banking President,
BBVA Compass
Andrea Smith has been in banking for more than 20 years, so you can imagine the changes she has seen in the industry. One of the biggest? Technology!
Smith, who began her banking career as a teller and worked her way up, says that she remembers when people used to physically come into the banks to conduct all their business face to face. Today, that business is conducted from desktops, laptops, tablets and Smartphones.
Her company, BBVA Compass, is on the cutting edge of the trend with a branch scheduled to open in Helotes later this year that will offer such high-tech features as virtual tellers, touch screens and live link ATMs. “BBVA is on the forefront of the technological changes in the industry,” says Smith. “We are really doing exciting things!”
When BBVA purchased Legacy Compass in 2007, making it BBVA Compass, it took the bank from what Smith describes as super regional to global status. With that came a menu of impressive new capabilities. Where Compass was primarily private wealth and real estate, BBVA Compass now includes international banking, health care lending, lending to public entities and providing mortgage and auto loans to foreign nationals.
Making customers and potential customers aware of these and all of the other opportunities that BBVA Compass can bring to the table is one of the biggest hurdles facing Smith, who came to San Antonio in April from the company headquarters in Birmingham, Ala. There, the bank’s name was on everyone’s lips, a fact that Smith says she took for granted. “It is definitely a challenge coming into a market where we aren’t as well known,” she admits.
It is a challenge that Smith, who holds an MBA from the University of Southern Mississippi, says she relishes. Her favorite part? Connecting with the community. Smith says that both Compass and BVAA Compass are very customer-centric companies, and that is a philosophy that is still at the core of the business model.
“Everything we do is driven by the customer,” she explains, adding that banking is a relationship industry. “You have to get to know people and invest in them because without clients there is no industry.”
However, there are those times that Smith has to make the tough call not to invest, especially in this economy. There may be an opportunity for a business owner that they want or need in order to move forward, but the bank isn’t ready yet. Those conversations are difficult, especially for someone like Smith. who says she derives her own satisfaction from helping people. “It’s never easy to deliver bad news,” she says empathetically.
Fortunately, though, she is able to balance those moments with other positive experiences such as investing in the community. Through the BBVA Compass Foundation, she is able to explore and find needs in the community in which the company can assist. In Birmingham, for example, the Foundation financed a minor league baseball stadium as part of a campaign to revitalize the downtown area. The project took nearly two years to complete, and the result is something that Smith says is one of the highlights of her career. “To see the first pitch thrown out and the stadium filled with people was so rewarding, “ she says. “It brought new life and energy to the community.”
Smith has also worked extensively with the Food Bank, where she served as president of the board in Birmingham. It is an organization that she says she admires for the fact that it “touches people where the need is the greatest.”
Although she has not been in San Antonio long enough to match the level of community involvement she enjoyed in Birmingham, Smith, her husband, and their two teenage sons have embraced San Antonio and enjoy spending their free time exploring their new home. The city seems to have embraced Smith and her family as well. “We’ve been so amazed at the openness of the people here,” she says happily. “It’s such a multi-cultural and progressive city. It’s a very refreshing change.”

Kim Heinze
President and CEO,
River City Federal Credit Union
Kim Heinze has been in the credit union business for three decades. But it wasn’t until she re-entered the work force in 2003 after a five-year hiatus to have children that she realized how much change could occur in a relatively short amount of time. “When I left, people thought it was so cool to be able to ‘talk’ PC to PC via Crosstalk,” she laughs. “I came back and we had email.” Heinze, who earned her MBA from Lamar University in Beaumont, has been in the credit union business for three decades, traveling and working across Texas before returning to settle in Beaumont and raise her three children. She chose Beaumont for its small-town atmosphere as well as the credit union-rich environment. Heinze found her place as the COO of Mobile Oil Federal Credit Union, a position she held for seven years, before relocating to San Antonio to accept the position of president and CEO of River City Federal Credit Union.
“I liked the diversity here,” says Heinze of why she made the move to the Alamo City, adding that at the time three women sat on the seven-member board of directors. “It showed me that the company promoted women’s groups,” she says. While the company may have been diverse, the client list was not. The average age of the company’s account holders was 57, and they were net depositors, not net borrowers. Heinze set out to change that and reach a younger demographic. “If your customers are an aging population that is simply interested in saving, that’s a recipe for disaster,” she explains. When she began in 2009, her first order of business was to establish a call center to handle incoming calls relating to everything from credit card limit increases to trouble with debit cards. In 2010, South East Community Credit Union selected River City to merge with them, a move which brought in 1,250 members and $10 million in assets. “This really helped us grow and be able to serve more people in Bexar County,” says Heinze.

It also allowed the company to have a presence on the South Side when it took over the existing South East Community Credit Union building in that location, giving River City its fifth branch. Additionally, River City began leasing space in four select H-E-B stores, increasing their reach even further. Mobile apps, a social media presence and incentives such as free checking, free debit cards and free bill-paying services all followed in an effort to draw in the younger customers. These efforts paid off. By 2012, the company realized double-digit growth in that all-important 18- to 23-year-old demographic that Heinze had set out to conquer. “These are the moneymakers of the future,” she explains of the importance of this group to the banking industry. “They are at an age for buying homes, starting families, paying for school, cars and other life expenses.”

Heinze is quick to credit what she calls her “dynamic team” for helping her achieve these company objectives. “We have to be strategic thinkers in this industry and lay the groundwork for long-term growth,” she says. “The whole team knows that, and we are looking to make a difference here.” Aside from making a difference in the financial situations of the customers River City Federal Credit Union serves, Heinze is committed to making a difference in the community of San Antonio. She sits on the board of the Alamo Chapter Credit Union, as well as two Cornerstone Credit Union League committees. She, along with the company, is very involved with Habitat for Humanity and the Children’s Miracle Network. When she isn’t working or performing community service, you can find Heinze hiking, tubing on the Frio, kayaking on the Guadalupe and attending zumba classes at her fitness center. She sings and plays the bells with her church choir and is constantly looking for ways to help others. In fact, turning customers down is the hardest part of her job.

“If I could, I’d take everyone who walks into one of those payday loan vendors and direct them to us so we could help them,” she says wishfully. “When we can put together successful debt-consolidation loans and watch people climb out of that cycle, there is nothing more rewarding.”

Maggie Ortiz
Senior Vice President,
Cadence Bank
September of 2012 was a big year in the life of Cadence Bank senior vice president Maggie Ortiz. Not only was she three months pregnant with her second child, she was tapped to join a select team to start a new San Antonio Cadence Bank from the ground up. Although many women would struggle with the decision to leave the security of a 15-year career with IBC Bank (especially while pregnant), Ortiz leapt at the chance and never looked back. “I didn’t know when an opportunity like this would present itself again,” says Ortiz of her decision. “It’s very exciting to be a part of something from its beginning.” Ortiz, who was born and raised in San Antonio, earned her degree in corporate finance from St. Mary’s University and began her career with IBC as a credit analyst immediately following her graduation. Her role at Cadence has Ortiz working with the same IBC team she has worked with for more than a decade, and she says that the cohesive group is like family. Together, they work to make sure that the clients’ needs are met, while at the same time ensuring a culture of work/life balance. That’s important when starting a new venture from scratch. Ortiz says they face unique challenges: How to market the bank? How to establish brand recognition? How to find the right locations? Most importantly, how to get the information about the history of Cadence to the clients and gain their confidence? “We have to show that we are not fly-by-night bankers,” she explains. “We have to demonstrate to our customers how we can help them grow their business.”

Part of that involves making customers familiar with all that Cadence has to offer. According to their company overview, that includes a full suite of financial, wealth management and treasury services to middle-market commercial businesses, high net worth individuals and business owners. They boast more than 100 locations across six states, more than 140,000 customers and $5.5 billion in assets. Ortiz works hard to disseminate this information by immersing herself in the community and attending events where she can network and promote the Cadence Bank brand. And yet impressive statistics aside, she says that what she really likes to promote about Cadence Bank is the level of customer service she and the rest of the team provide. Clients are given the team’s cell phone numbers for easy accessibility, and every team member is well versed in the accounts of every client. That way, if immediate assistance is needed, anyone can step in and help.

It’s a plan Ortiz calls working “smarter, not harder,” and it’s a strategy she recommends to any businesswoman in order to maximize efficiency. “When you are given a particular task or assignment and you are working to complete it, utilize all resources, such as your superiors and colleagues, and ask for their advice,” she recommends. “You will definitely learn more and broaden your perspective if you ask a lot of questions and build on their knowledge and experience.” When she is not working, Ortiz is serving her community in a number of ways. She sits on the advisory board of the Junior League of San Antonio and was recently appointed to the Urban Soccer Leadership Academy of San Antonio (USLA-SA).

“I am very excited to help out this organization, based on what their goal is with the children,” says this mother of two, who says she spends every spare second with her family. “It fosters integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership for urban youth and families.” It has been a busy couple of years for this vivacious businesswoman, but Ortiz doesn’t appear frazzled. In fact, she seems like a woman who is thoroughly enjoying the adventure and balancing it all beautifully. How would she sum up her life at this point? “It’s a very exciting time!”

By Bonny Osterhage
Photography Vivian Crook

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