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As a Hispanic professional, have you ever considered a career in management? This branch manager for a bank explains how she feels uniquely equipped to serve her Hispanic community through her job at a bank because of her mastery of the Spanish language, as well as a deep understanding of the culture of her customers.

Q: What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives?

A: I am a Branch Manager and I work in banking. I have been in banking for fifteen years and worked my way up from part-time bank teller to the Branch Manager. I would describe myself as focused, organized, and thoughtful.

Q: What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best?

A: I am a Hispanic female. I think it has both hurt and helped me depending on the situation. The bank I work at is very political; my boss is also a Hispanic female. Some have said this helped me get promoted quickly to Branch Manager. I maintain I was promoted quickly because I work hard. It also helps that my branch location is in a very Hispanic neighborhood and I speak Spanish. I feel small amounts of discrimination on a regular basis when someone wants to talk the manager and assumes it isn’t me because of my gender and race. I’m almost to the point where I enjoy taking them to my office and then introducing myself as the manager. People immediately start talking to me with more respect; some people have even apologized for the way they talked to me at the teller window or in the lobby.

Q: How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?

A: I manage sales, operations, and customer service. My job varies a lot from day to day, but involves a lot of customer service and staff issues. The only misunderstanding I’d like to correct is individual bank employees are not responsible for the bad economy, at least at the branch level.

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?

A: I would say an 8. Customers never want to see a manager to say what a good job we did for them. I get a little burned out on complaints and fixing other people’s mistakes. It’s often the mistake of another branch location.

Q: If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?

A: I am proud of my job and my family is too. I like helping out the people in my community, whether it is a small business needing a loan or a single mom with too many overdraft fees. I feel it’s important to educate people to become financially healthy. This is an area that my people have struggled to gain equal footing in. I know for example my parents and grandparents do not trust banks and would rather keep cash at home; not that I am trying to speak for the attitudes of all Hispanic people.

Q: Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?

A: I was the first person in my family to go to college. This includes my extended family of 60 plus people.

Q: How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?

A: I started working part-time in college. If there is anything I could change, it would to have been able to enjoy college more. I had a job and infant daughter so those were some hard years.

Q: What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?

A: I am learning that times are very hard for everyone. Good people are driven to do some bad things in this economy. I can’t go into a lot of personal details about people’s finances but we get surprised weekly at the bank.

Q: What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?

A: A college degree is important but hard work in a job is what you really need to move up. A lot of job skills can’t be taught in college.

Q: What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?

A: I once pretended a copy machine was out of paper. We were delaying a man who was cashing a check but doing so as part of a check fraud ring. We needed to keep him in the lobby until the police came, so I spilled paper all over the floor and kept apologizing for how long it was taking me to take a copy of his ID.

Q: Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?

A: I go to work every day to take care of my daughter and parents. My father is retired and I support us all. It feels good to do this for my family.

Q: What kind of challenges do you handle and what makes you want to just quit?

A: I never want to quit. There is always at least a small part of the day that makes the hassles worth it, like seeing my daughter’s smile after a long day.

Q: How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?

A: It has periods of high and low stress. I try to work 50 hours a week or less. This doesn’t always happen but I make up for it with a special mother-daughter day where we go out to eat, the movies, anything my daughter wants to do.

Q: What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?

A: The range is 60-80K plus some bonuses. This is a comfortable salary and we live within my means.

Q: How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?

A: I get three weeks but don’t always get to take it when we are short-staffed. It would be enough if I could always take it.

Q: What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?

A: Education helps but really you just need to get your foot in the door and work hard. You have to be accurate with your cash drawer and transactions.

Q: What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

A: Make sure you have a thick skin! Customers and employees will say some hurtful things.

Q: If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?

A: I would somehow have summers off with my daughter. She and I would see the world when she was on summer break. I want her world to be bigger than mine was.