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Nanette Reid, MBA ‘03
Nanette Reid, MBA ‘03

Nanette Reid has worked at U.S. Bank for 25 years, starting out as a small town bank teller at age 16. She steadily advanced within the company through a combination of on the job experience and educational achievements, including receiving her BA and MBA from PSU’s School of Business. She is now the Business Banking Strategy Manager for U.S. Bank’s Metropolitan Business Banking group.

One of the bigger challenges she faced in her career was operating as a woman in a workforce comprised mostly of male colleagues. Banking has been a traditionally male-dominated industry for much of its history -- and U.S. Bank is no exception. 

Very much to her credit, Nanette has thrived in her career with the tools of creating community, and the skill of touting her achievements. She now finds herself acting in a mentorship role, fostering the success and leadership of other bright young women like herself.

What are some of the challenges you face as a woman in a male-dominated industry?
I think women have to overcome more obstacles in senior leadership roles. If we are too bold and direct, we are considered rude; if we are too nice to people, we are considered soft and have no backbone. You nearly have to be perfect; balancing dressing stylish with dressing professional. Not too much skin showing but don’t wear pant suits because it makes you look to masculine.  

Women are simply judged more harshly than our men counterparts.  We constantly second guess ourselves; are we talking too much in the meeting; or not enough? We often don’t spend enough time networking with the senior leaders (managing up). Most women think if they put their heads down and work hard, they will get noticed. 
The truth is you have to work hard but you also have to let those above you see the great work you do. And tooting our own horn doesn’t come natural to many of us women. But networking and telling your story is very important if you want to climb the corporate ladder. 

How did you overcome these workplace challenges? 
I was lucky in that I had many sponsors and mentors along the way; people who gave me feedback and “truth talk” to help me learn and grow and prepare me for the additional roles and responsibilities I was seeking. I am very grateful for these people; I couldn’t have done it without them.  

And now we are working to create “Lean-In circles” and mentorship programs for other young women leaders with high potential so they can hone their skills and prepare themselves for those next roles.  We focus on things like executive presence, finding a sponsor, developing your personal brand, being bold and not perfect, etc.  In addition, we have Business Resource Groups at the company that help people across the bank find others with common interests and goals. 

Over the past few years I have seen much progress being made and many more women are finding their voice and achieving their goals.  It is exciting to see and I am happy to be a part of this important movement, encouraging young women to put themselves out there and proactively GO FOR that next role with increasing responsibility. 

What advice would you give for a female business student to help her succeed?
If I were giving advice to a young School of Business female college graduate who was interested in joining a bank, I would say GO FOR IT! There is no better time for women to shine.  Learn as much as you can; gain the credentials you need to prove you have the technical skills and then focus on being YOU.  Be bold, not perfect. Make mistakes and then bounce back. Learn and grow and be resilient.  A good leader is more important than being the subject matter expert. People want to follow leaders; not managers. And surround yourself with people smarter than you; you will learn so much.