Jennifer Pensa, 2020 New England Women in Banking Winner

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Jennifer Pensa

EVP, Director of Operations and Technology
Chelsea Groton Bank

How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay?

I found my way to Banking through a role as the Executive Director of a Chamber of Commerce. In that role I worked closely with the leadership of the local community Bank and when I needed to work more than part time I joined their team and found a fantastic fit with my skill set.

Prior to the Chamber role, I had worked for a number of non-profit organizations that focused on families and community resources. I would not have guessed that my passion for community advocacy would lead me to a long term role working in community banking.

Each Community Bank has provided me with opportunities to affect change in my community and for our Customers. Chelsea Groton team members really live that mission. I am motivated and energized by working alongside my Chelsea Groton peers and team members who believe in supporting each other and making a real difference in our communities.  

The past several months in Banking have been the most challenging of my career, but I think overcoming these challenges as a team has motivated me to work harder and smarter each day. The challenges have provided me with opportunities to learn and grow. This is another strong motivator for me. The ability to take on new challenges daily and learn from them is invigorating.

Have you had any great female mentors? What is the importance of mentoring and is this something that you focus on?

In each of my roles throughout my career, I have had fabulous female leaders and mentors.

Starting with my very first role in a community based advocacy role, I had a fantastic mentor who taught me how to “eat the elephant one bite at a time.” This concept has allowed me to be successful in leading some very daunting projects.

At each of my Community Banks I was lucky to be paired with a mentor who listened to me, guided me, and provided invaluable insight into my leadership skills and gaps. Some of the feedback and guidance was hard to hear, but has allowed me to grow and choose my path.

In each of my mentors I found the common trait that I admired was their composure and calm demeanor. I continue to talk in particular with a woman I worked with at a large regional community bank and to this day her insight provides me with the most useful ideas.

I am successful in Banking due to the time and attention two different mentors provided me. Because of this, I am committed to connecting and building relationships within and outside my team to provide that neutral feedback and guidance. The key to a great mentoring relationship is the mutual agreement in regards to being open and direct and I hope my efforts allow other young Bankers to find their path.

What is your favorite TV show? Why?

My favorite programs in the past few years have become historical fiction. The Crown and Outlander are shows that I love. I recently watched a fabulous documentary that has stayed with me titled The Biggest little Farm. This is about a young couple who turned a barren farm in southern CA into an amazing place that nurtures the ecosystem. I think I choose each of these examples because they challenge what I know and how I think about things. I love that. I love to be entertained and challenged to think at the same time!

What do you consider your greatest success?

I have been very lucky to experience many “wins” and success in my professional life. While I could name any number of large projects that I am very proud of, my biggest success is in my relationships with my team members.

I am tough, I have high expectations and I push hard. I feel successful at the end of my day when my team has worked side by side, aligned to our Bank strategy and we are having fun!

Honestly my greatest professional success to date was having my team members recognize me through the nomination of this award. That means more to me than anything else. At the end of the day, my role is to guide, mentor and provide resource for them so that we can meet our goals as a team. I am proud to be their leader and their friend.

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