Wanda Ibidapo is a career banker, following a path that began in the early 1980s.
A senior vice president and senior Treasury Management relationship manager at Regions, Ibidapo began her finance career in Wilmington, Delaware, when she landed her first job in bank administration – a role that quickly morphed into Treasury Management support.
We sat down with Ibidapo to learn more about her background and how she has navigated her impressive career in banking.
How did you get your start?
I always start my story by sharing my upbringing as an inner-city child. I worked in the mayor’s office during high school and won various state competitions for exemplary administrative skills. After attending a vocational high school, I went to work immediately in my chosen career pathway because college was not an option for me at the time. The work and awards I received in high school are what landed my first role in a bank, where I worked in an administrative capacity, before moving into Treasury Management support.
After three years in banking, I stepped out of the industry briefly to explore a career in nursing. I sought an administrative position at a local hospital in Wilmington and began the nursing program at Delaware Technical College. After about two years, I recognized my calling was rooted in banking. I am still intrigued with the medical field, but banking is where I belong.
You call Atlanta home and you have built an impressive career here. Tell us about your journey.
Yes, I relocated to Atlanta in 1988, sending my resume to all the major banks in the city. From there I joined First Bank of Atlanta, which was merging with Wachovia Bank. I was there for 22 years, starting in Human Resources, where I spent my first three years. I realized that I missed the client interaction and problem solving that came with my prior banking role at JPMorgan in Delaware, so I applied for a role in Corporate Banking and expanded my career during my time with Wachovia.
I started in large corporate as an account manager with a heavy concentration in cash management. I traveled across the Northeast with a portfolio that was largely Fortune 100 companies in the insurance industry. In 2003, I had the opportunity to become fully emerged into Treasury Management as an analyst. I was in this role for about four years, before becoming a sales officer focused on inside sales. I received several awards for exceeding goals and large wins throughout this time.
In 2010, I received a voicemail from a Regions recruiter who had been given my name by a former colleague that made the move to Regions. Initially, I called back to say I was not interested. However, when the recruiter suggested I at least consider a phone conversation, I agreed. That conversation led to an in-person interview. It turned out I knew several people that left Wachovia to join Regions and loved it here, so I accepted the offer and never looked back.
How do you define yourself as a career banker?
Years ago, a senior vice president shared with me that she did not have a college degree and referred to herself as a “career banker.” For me – and based on my career background – it just fit. I went straight into banking after my high school graduation and built my career on a foundation of experience and hard work.
In 2006, I returned to school to earn my associate degree, but, as my family grew, I realized something was still missing.
Each member of my family – my husband and four kids – channeled our creative energy while adding to our home. Each of us dedicated a room in their respective college colors: Vanderbilt, University of Georgia, Johns Hopkins, Kennesaw State and Georgia Southern. I wanted a space of my own to display my school colors. Watching my children grow up and earn their degrees, along with the success I have had as a career banker, I was inspired to go back to school for my bachelor’s degree.
Now, I can proudly say I have earned my bachelor’s degree from Albany State University, and I proudly have a college-colored room! Honestly, through my career, my experience spoke louder than what I could get from a classroom. But I’ve learned that I am able to see how earning my degree transformed how I show up in meetings, sharpened my critical thinking and catapulted my leadership skills.
Congratulations – that is so inspiring! So, what would you tell someone interested in going into banking today?
Banking today isn’t like banking yesterday. It is not just counting money; it’s so much broader; so many more career opportunities. You can have an architectural design degree and work at a bank. Knowledge, experience and skills can lead to success in banking, as the many positions offered are so vast. Don’t let your degree limit what you think you can do at a bank.
Having effective communication skills along with solid soft skills can be easily transferable into the banking and finance industry. Some of the most successful bankers I’ve worked with leveraged skills and backgrounds from various disciplines and areas of study to build strong careers in banking. It is really about the foundation and experience.
Ready to build your career at Regions?
Associates are Regions’ most valuable resource. When they succeed, Regions succeeds. Looking for a place to chart your personal career course? Visit the Careers page on regions.com to search current job listings and to learn more about working at Regions.
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