When Annie Spagnolo earned her B.S. in Business Management from Babson College, she had no idea her studies would ultimately land her a leadership role in the financial services industry. After running a fashion blog and completing a summer internship with an international fashion house in NYC, she thought her future would be in the fashion industry. But a career fair she attended before graduating would serve as the catalyst that changed her mind.
It was at this on-campus career fair that she first heard about Citizen Bank’s Commercial Banker Development Program. The 12-month program offers training and leadership development for candidates who are looking to begin a career in commercial banking. The opportunity, she says, felt like “the right move” for her — so, she decided to apply and was accepted into the program.
Seven years later, Spagnolo is now the Vice President, COO of Underwriting & Portfolio Management for Citizens Commercial Banking, the 13th largest retail bank in the U.S. She starts her days by reviewing her calendar to get a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished, and she also keeps a running list of longer-term deliverables to get a clear sense of how her daily to-dos will impact her strategy and deliverables down the road.
Knowing how to prioritize and being extremely detail oriented have been constants throughout a career that has taken her across multiple roles at Citizens Bank, from Analyst to Portfolio Manager on the Restaurant Lending team, to her current role as COO of Underwriting & Portfolio Management.
“My job today builds on the knowledge and skills I’ve learned along the way,” Spagnolo said. “But it gives me a more macro-view of commercial banking and underwriting, and it also allows me to interact with many teams and groups across the bank.”
Taking the leap from an aspiring fashion career to her current financial track is a career move Spagnolo says she’s especially proud of. Another was having the courage to pursue the leadership role she’s in now, given the fact she’d never done anything like this before.
“I’ve been able to grow into the position, and am grateful for the chance to lead and manage new, impactful projects and broaden my view of Commercial Banking even further.”
These projects often entail working cross-functionally with different colleagues, which has helped her gain stronger exposure to other areas of the bank, too. Plus, they have allowed her to showcase one of her core strengths, her presentation and public speaking skills, something she refined over many years of performing in musical theater.
All of these opportunities for collaboration have served to affirm for Spagnolo what a supportive, team-oriented culture she’s found at Citizens Bank. “I am thankful to have been mentored by many colleagues over the years, and sponsored by leaders across the organization,” she said. “I mentor colleagues now, too, because I want others to gain the same benefits from mentorship and sponsorship that I have along my career path.”
All of this, she says, “keeps every day interesting,” as well as testifies to the fact that she made the correct choice in pivoting career paths seven years ago.
“Pivoting from fashion into commercial banking was a risk,” she says. “But it was also an opportunity. If I hadn’t been open-minded, I would not be where I am today.”
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