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For Banking Exec, Each Step on Career Path Is an Education

What began as a banking job after high school turned into a lifelong career for Rebecca Humphries, whose 26 years in the business has led to a top executive position at Neighborhood National Bank.

El Cajon’s Valhalla High School alumna, class of ’87, took her first banking job at the age of 17 at Heartland Savings & Loan in the East County community where she grew up. She had to wait to turn 18 so she could be licensed and bonded before entering the teller lineup.

The 43-year-old Humphries said she performed back-office work before becoming a part-time drive-up teller at Heartland while taking general education courses at Grossmont and Cuyamaca community colleges. Although she wasn’t able to complete her education due to family obligations, she said that she found her calling through years of sacrifice and hard work at several local banks.


Continuing Education

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And she’s never stopped learning. In addition to taking courses on and off over the years, the senior vice president and senior loan officer at the National City branch of Neighborhood National Bank is currently enrolled in the Stonier School of Banking in Pennsylvania, a three-year executive banking program that covers the ins-and-outs of running a bank from day-to-day management to finance and budgeting to marketing.

Upon arriving at Neighborhood National she said she quickly learned how to underwrite and process commercial loans.

“I immersed myself in the credit world and rose through the ranks as a commercial lender,” she said.

From there she became a branch manager and commercial lender for the bank’s East County branch in Rancho San Diego, and was then promoted from vice president to senior vice president and manager of business development outreach.

20 Million Hats

“Being in a community bank you wear 20 million different hats,” she said. “I’m currently a senior loan officer. I’m still managing the Loan Officer Business Development Outreach Group and I participate in the Executive Committee of the bank and sit on all the major committees of the bank.”

Bob McGill, CEO and chairman of Neighborhood National Bank, credits Humphries with helping the bank work through many problem loans in the portfolio during the economic downturn, which involved making some tough decisions. He says that she was instrumental in helping the bank raise more than $2.5 million dollars of new capital during the past few years.

Leading the Way

“This was during a period of time when most banks found it impossible to raise any capital,” McGill said. “In many parts of the effort she took the lead despite being fairly new to that aspect of banking, and she did a great job with it.”

McGill has worked with Humphries over the dozen years she’s been serving the bank and admires her for having an optimistic, upbeat attitude, which he says pulls her through difficult times and sets an example for people around her. He describes her as having a balance of tremendous work habits and a very smart, inquisitive mind. As for professional accomplishments, he notes that she’s risen through the ranks and acquired experience on the operations side as well as the credit side.

“Most people come up through operations, credit or administration, but she’s had exposure to all three areas,” he said. “That’s a unique combination and a valuable one to us. In terms of professional attributes she’s a good listener, she responds directly to questions, and she states things the way she sees them, which is a real strength.”

Among the current difficulties Humphries faces is serving borrowers who have been hit hard by the economy. When it was founded in 1997, Neighborhood National was one of the first nationally-chartered community development financial institutions, a program of the U.S. Treasury Department designed to ensure banking services to underserved neighborhoods. Humphries says the bank’s mission is to serve low- and moderate-income communities in San Diego by providing access to capital. She says the challenge is helping her clients work through some of their loans, particularly under strict regulatory requirements.

“My goal would be to continue to prosper with Neighborhood National Bank, to really be a part of the growth of this bank in the future,” she said.

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