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Friday
August 23rd, 2019

julie huber at power of the purseJulie Huber talks about her experiences in life during Tuesday afternoon’s Power of the Purse event hosted by the United Way. Huber currently serves as executive vice president and strategic initiatives of Equity Bank. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

Women being hired for major roles and positions in companies is still somewhat rare in today’s world and Tuesday afternoon, Liberal citizens got to hear from a woman in a major position with a local company. 

Julie Huber, who currently serves as executive vice president and strategic initiatives at Equity Bank, shared her story with the gathered crowd at Tuesday’s Power of the Purse event. Huber began by emphasizing she was not always in her current position. 

“My story doesn’t start with me being executive vice president of a multi-billion dollar bank. I went to college at a small school in McPherson,” Huber said. “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life, which is becoming more common for college-age people. I actually began as an English major and about a year into that I realized it wasn’t really for me. So I switched my major to business and thought banking would be really cool. All I knew about banking at that point was I had a checking account and a savings account, that was really it. So I graduated from college and at that point there weren’t really a lot of jobs and I was looking and looking and knew if I could get my foot in the door of a bank somewhere, I could figure it out. I took a job as a drive-through teller at a local bank in McPherson. I was thrilled with it and I always told myself ‘I’m going to learn everything I can. These people are going to pay me to come in and work while educating me about banking.’ I did everything I could and learned everything I could – if there was a job that needed done, I put my hand up, whether it was cleaning up the coin counter or letting someone in to their safe deposit box or typing up loan documents. I took it all as a learning opportunity. There’s so much information that pass through a bank, especially loan documents, and after the time to read them, I learned how to put a loan together. Taking all of those little jobs was really beneficial and it was all a great learning opportunity. I still have some of my college textbooks in my office as a reminder that there is always something new to learn.”

After working at that bank for a while, there were some changes that happened in Huber’s life. 

“I started looking around and I thought ‘I’m ready to manage some people and take on some more responsibility,’” Huber said. “It was a bank that wasn’t growing a lot and the people in authority were of the mindset that they didn’t see me leaving anytime soon, so I realized I was either going to have to be content with where I was or go somewhere else. I decided I wasn’t content and there was a lot more I wanted to do with my life, so I left. I called a friend who was the president of another bank nearby and said ‘I want a job. Put me wherever, but I want to go somewhere where there will be more growth and opportunity.’ So he hired me on and I was a loan assistant at that time. And there was again a lot of times where I was taking on those smaller jobs around the bank and learning about more. I spent eight years with that bank and by the time I left there, I was a regional sales manager traveling through states with them. I’d also helped implement a call center and training department for them. It was all about pushing myself forward and telling myself ‘I knew I can do this, just let me have the opportunity to prove myself. It was a wonderful learning experience and all the people I worked with were great.”

After that time, Huber continued, there were even more changes to come. 

“This friend who’d originally hired me called me one day and told me ‘I’m going to start something fun and I want you to join me,’” Huber said. “I had two very  small children at this point and I was traveling a lot so I told him ‘That won’t work for me right now, but what is it?’ Then he told me ‘I have this crazy idea and I want to start a bank and I think there’s such an opportunity to put those resources and services into our community.’ Then I said ‘I’m in.’ We took a big risk iny my household because I’d gone in and quit my job and my husband at that time worked for one of the board members of the bank I was at and he went in to let them know, and he was let go that same day. So all of a sudden we went from two incomes and a pretty decent life with benefits to no income, no benefits and two small children. With all that, we were all praying the risk was worth the reward because it had all happened so fast. So we rolled the dice and took a chance. And that’s what life is, life throws you a lot of curveballs along the way.”

The family moved to Wichita, Huber continued, to see what would happen with this new endeavor. 

“We started the bank, it was two branches at that time, so it was very small and we only had about 30 employees,” Huber said. “Throughout the past 16 years, a lot of everything that’s happened has been about simply figuring things out. We were a little bit over our heads at the beginning but again, that’s what life is – you take the risk and figure out things as you go along. Today I have a lot of roles in the bank and I love the job I’m in today, I get to work on the strategic plan for the bank. I work a lot of mergers and acquisitions and I get to go into great communities and work with our employees there because we bring them into our Equity Bank family and work with all our customers with everything. I have a great life. It’s been a hard journey to get here and there are always things that come along the way. I am a solid believer that everything happens for a purpose and there will be times where you stop and realize ‘That is NOT the direction I thought this would all go.’ Life’s all about taking a step back and thinking ‘How will I react to this?’ because life is all about reactions and those reactions are what determines your character.”

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