Growing up in the small town of Easley, South Carolina, Sonal Bullard, head of Wealth Management Strategy & Effectiveness, dreamed of being an educator.
Life took her in a different direction as her passions evolved while she was in high school.
“As the middle child of first-generation Americans raising a family in small town South Carolina, I always had a drive to take care of, to organize, and execute on projects,” said Bullard. “Those traits have carried through my life and career.”
We sat down with Bullard, who joined Regions in October 2022 after more than 15 years with Truist (and its predecessor companies) to learn more about what shaped her career and ultimately led her to Regions.
Growing up, you wanted to be an educator. Tell us about how your passions evolved.
I really developed a passion around politics once I was in high school, and still have a lot of interest in current events, national news, international news and its affect on society, so my interests shifted to government and law.
Between my junior and senior years in high school I had an opportunity to go to the South Carolina Governor’s School. There I picked up a summer concentration on legal studies. I went into college thinking I was going to go into law, but once I got to school at the University of South Carolina, I found I really enjoyed my business classes. It was a done deal after that.
How did that path lead you to a career in finance?
While in college, I decided to double down in marketing and finance. I enjoyed that I could do the creative side and look at business strategy along with some of the right brain work in accounting and finance. Between the quantitative you can determine a path for yourself through what you are learning.
Leaning on my love of government and politics, I was heavily involved in student government, worked at the state house while in Columbia, and was involved with business societies throughout my college career. My passion for community service really developed in high school and grew from there.
You are very driven in your career and passions, tell us more about where that comes from.
I’ve always been achievement driven. I love working with people and listening hard to what they are saying and noticing also what they may not be saying. I like to look for ways to bridge viewpoints to advance the agenda.
The ability to have conversations in both the creative marketing space and the finance world really broadened the scope of work I’ve been able to do in my career. While in college, I knew I wanted to go into the financial services sector and upon graduation, I started in consulting during the heavy M&A era in banking. My first job was with Accenture in Charlotte.
How did you pivot from consulting to banking?
While at Accenture I was focused on the finance industry and worked with major money centers during my time there. The interesting thing about consulting is that at the time the training model was not necessarily on the ins and outs of financial services, but rather on learning a coding language we knew we’d never use. We were given a finite period of time to learn something we had no background in. Ultimately, the intent was to determine, can you do it? The way we were taught was to take something you may not know a lot about and truly learn it.
In 2006, I made the move to SunTrust. Here I really leaned into my interest in wealth management and had a litany of roles there from communications, strategic development, and marketing. It was a great time in my career where I got to learn a lot and build the skills that prepared me for the role I have today.
Great transition. Tell us more about your decision to move to Regions.
In part, it was about me, but it was very much about the company – these things have to align. The timing has to work. The decision to make the move to Regions was driven by the mix of my past career experiences plus skills I had gained and the desire to expand my horizons. I was at a point in my career where I didn’t think I could find the culture I would want to entice me to start over with a new company.
Through conversations with Regions Wealth Management leaders and associates, I really felt it.
We talk about culture a lot here at Regions, and it is one of our most important assets we bring to future associates. We are a collaborative culture, we are a culture that is urgent – driving for what the future looks like. I knew I didn’t want to work for a company that was potentially resting on its laurels. At Regions, there is a hunger to innovate and drive what comes next in our company and our business. From digital to technical to marketing and social media, coupled with the quality of the advice and products we offer, we are focused on continuous improvement and a focus on our customers.
When I got a chance to see that culture through the interview process, I got really excited with taking on this new opportunity, leveraging the experiences I had gained over the past 20 years in my career.
Looking into a crystal ball, what does the future hold?
I am excited to be part of the next chapter of Regions’ success. You get few opportunities in your career to do really fun work – this is one of those opportunities.
Ready to build your career in wealth management?
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
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