Informational Interview with Emily Smalley

An informational interview is an informal interview with someone in your field or desired field that will shed light on the specific skills and abilities needed to progress in that career. It’s important not only for the educational benefits, as you will likely learn things in the interview that you couldn’t gain elsewhere, but it’s an important networking opportunity. The following informal interview was conducted with.

The Contact

• Name: Emily Smalley

• Title/Position: Credit Analyst Manager

• Company: US Bank

• Industry: Community Banking — credit

Questions about the Contact

1. How did you start out in your career?

Emily started out her career in equipment finance as a credit analyst. She worked with customers in the agriculture industry looking to buy farm equipment. She then transitioned to a relationship manager for the same bank and did not enjoy that role because of the sales goals. She then moved on to US Bank to work as a credit analyst. After a few years of being a credit analyst she was promoted to credit analyst manager.

2. Is there something you wish you’d known or a skill you wish you had starting out in this industry?

Emily wish she would’ve learned more about accounting. She has a major in finance and believes more accounting focus could help her in her job. Specifically, she wishes she would’ve had more income tax training since much of her time is spent analyzing tax returns.

3. What’s your biggest challenge in this role?

The biggest challenge in Emily’s role is time management. There are a lot of expectations in her job like training analysts, assigning work flow, and managing problems as they arise. Often, there isn’t enough time in the work day to get everything accomplished. This requires her to work more than the standard 40 hours a week.

4. What is your typical day like? What percentage of time is doing what?

Emily indicates that there is no typical day. She says that over half her day is usually spent on the phone and the rest is answering questions or figuring out solutions to problems.

5. Do you have any outside obligations to your employer?

There are no specific requirements outside of normal working hours. That being said, she is often encouraged to get involved in the community to enhance US Banks presence.

6. What are the major frustrations with this job?

The biggest frustration Emily has with her current role is that she is still doing underwriting work that should be done by credit analysts. Emily’s department is currently fully staffed, but over half the people on her team are new. This requires her to pick up some of the slack due to inexperience.

7. What do you find most enjoyable with this job?

Emily most enjoys the diversity her job allows. She is not doing the same thing day in and out. She also enjoys helping her co-workers and employees understand the underwriting process.

8. What sort of career advancement opportunities are there after your role or complimentary positions.

Advancement opportunities for Emily consist of being a relationship manager or climbing the ranks of credit by becoming a credit manager.

Questions about Communicating for Leadership

1. How would you describe yourself as a leader?

Emily describes herself as being a hands off leader and doesn’t like to micromanage. She doesn’t see herself as a motivator, but more as a pacesetter, which leads by example.

2. Could you tell me a story about challenge you faced as a leader? How did you solve it? How did it change you?

The most difficult challenge Emily faced as a leader happened in August 2016 when she lost two credit analyst at the same time. Emily only managed six credit analyst at the time and losing two was a big deal. This problem was exacerbated by the fact the fall was coming up which is the busiest time of the year. Emily handled this situation by asking the relationship managers to step in and help underwrite. She also asked her boss for additional help that could be pulled elsewhere in the division. Through collaborated effort the situation was taken control of and things are going well. The thing that Emily learned is to not depend on just one person to handle a complicated credit. Handing off a credit to different analysts at different times may make for inefficiencies due to learning the customer, but it strengthens the team by spreading knowledge.

3. Could you tell me a story about a time you needed to communicate to get a group of people to change?

Emily had to communicate underwriting changes to a group of analysts who didn’t receive formal training. New underwriting changes were coming with classes taking place throughout the second half of 2016. Analysts weren’t required to adopt this new underwriting method until they had taken the official training. Emily wanted to get her analysts off on the fast track. Having received the training prior to her employees she had to convince them to adopt early.

Questions seeking Advice for you

1. Do you have any advice for someone seeking to qualify to get into your type of work?

Emily advises that hard work, good attitude and work ethic are needed for the role. The candidate needs to want to do well and not just meet the status quo. She also recommends that to qualify that person needs to be well respected and have rapport with their colleagues.

2. What skills would you need in this role?

Emily recommends having strong time management skills, people skills, and a strong attention to detail.

3. Any specific courses you would recommend in an MBA track?

Emily recommends becoming fluent in accounting and to take leadership courses.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

In my interview with Emily I learned that she respects hard work and good time management skills. I was surprised that Emily didn’t feel confident in accounting when she first started out since she shows mastery now. My main takeaway from this interview is that to be successful in her role you need to bring your “A” game. Having a strong personal branding is key to get into the role. Now that I’ve had this interview I’ll be concentrating on changing my attitude in the workplace to being more positive and to work on doing the right thing.

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