Wendy E. Kagan, 2020 New England Women in Banking Winner

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Wendy E. Kagan

Executive Vice President, Director of Employee and Community Engagement

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

I came into the Banking profession through the Human Resources world. After earning a Master of Science in Human Resource Management, I worked in the nonprofit industry for seven years, yet knew that I wanted to get back into the for-profit world after a prior career in marketing and merchandising in the apparel industry.
When I was first interviewing for a job in banking with a recruiter from another financial institution, the recruiter used a lot of banking “jargon.” I did not feel the interview was as successful as I had hoped nor did it demonstrate my human resource experience.  I followed-up with the recruiter and asked if I could be re-interviewed with the same questions, removing the banking industry terms.  The recruiter agreed and the result was beyond my expectations…Let’s just say I got the job!  This experience reinforced my belief that if you are good at what you do, you can apply it to any industry. Now that I have been in Banking for over 20 years I can say with confidence I consider myself a “banker.”

I am motivated to stay in Banking because I have continued to stretch the “status quo.” I’ve been fortunate to work for organizations, like BankNewport, that have allowed me to continuously try new things, and reach new challenges, especially in terms of my leadership development and strategic planning – all which are central to my current role as Executive Vice President, Director of Employee and Community Engagement, where I am responsible for the management of the human resources, community relations and marketing functions for BankNewport and its affiliates.

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

I have worked for many amazing people, both men and women, who have provided guidance and opportunity for me to grow.  Often it is not so much someone mentoring you but instead offering opportunities to grow, to be challenged, to take on responsibilities outside of my comfort zone or sphere of knowledge, and being there to support your successes and failures.  Over the past 14 years that I have worked for (BankNewport President) Sandy Pattie, she has provided this for me.  I also want to thank the Bank’s female board members for being women of such strength that I have the pleasure of interacting with and observing them in a board capacity.

What is your favorite book? Why?

My favorite book is Ahab’s Wife written by Sena Jeter Naslund.  It is an uplifting, beautifully written story of a woman’s spiritual journey, filled with humanity, wisdom, tragedy and triumph, all wrapped in our New England history. The book has truly left an impression on me.

What do you consider your greatest success?

Honestly, I consider my greatest success the credibility and reputation that I have built in the community. It has been extremely rewarding to share my expertise and experiences in support of the tireless work of nonprofits in my local community.

And at the core of my being I take pride in demonstrating authentic leadership with my teams and colleagues, through openness, trust, and reinforcement of their individual and collective value – and how together our commitment to the Bank and its mission truly does impact our communities.

I am proud to have worked so hard, and with such passion and dedication, to achieve my personal and professions goals, all while raising a family. I continually reflect on the many professional and personal lessons learned throughout my career, and my hope is that I have set an example for my son and daughter and those starting and building their careers.

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