Get to Know Amy Mellinger, 2023 EBL Committee Chair
SVP, Human Resources & Marketing, Powell Valley National Bank

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Tell us about why you became a banker and what has kept you in the industry for the past 19 years. 

I am an accidental banker.  In the weeks leading up to my college graduation, I interviewed for two open positions: one in pharmaceutical sales and the second one in banking.  The offer to become a new loan officer for a bank close to home came first.  I’ll never forget the first mortgage loan that I closed for a young family purchasing their first home.  It was such a rewarding experience to know that I helped make it happen.  Helping people and being a part of a bank that supports its community are what hooked me to the industry.  I have been fortunate to work across many different departments and in many different capacities over my career, from lending and electronic banking to marketing and human resources.  A passion for people and serving others has kept me in the industry, along with the variety of positions and responsibilities available.

Walk us through a day in your life. What does a typical workday entail for you? How do you prioritize your day?

There is truly no typical workday, which is probably what I love the most about my job.  I am not a person who can sit behind the same desk, in the same office, tackling the same tasks every day.  While a typical day is heavy on the Human Resources side from recruiting and onboarding to benefits and payroll, you’ll find me recording minutes for bank board meetings, working on marketing campaigns and events, and even helping coworkers and customers with all things ebanking.  Variety is the spice of life and banking, perhaps?  At the end of each day, I make a list for the following day and use it to prioritize my day, knowing that I’ll have interruptions and that other employees will need support from me.  If you know me, then you know my silver notebook is always with me!

You have worked with VBA Immediate Past Chairman and former VBA staff member Leton Harding, Powell Valley National Bank chairman, president and CEO, for many years. Which of “Leton’s Leadership Lessons” stands out to you?  

I could write a book on the leadership (and life) lessons I’ve learned from Leton, and he should definitely write a book.  He’s taught me to be curious and to always continue learning and growing.  In the words of the late John Wooden, “The best learning takes place after I know it all.”  Leton has taught me about the importance of the journey, successes, and sometimes, more importantly, failures along the journey.  I can’t tell you how many times he’s reminded me that, while climbing the mountain, always remember to stop, take a breath, and turn around and look back at how far I’ve come.

Who or what else inspires you? What resources, tools or techniques do you use when you need new ideas or to be reenergized?

People inspire and energize me.  Banking is the tool that connects me to people - there’s another “Leton Lesson” for you.  If I’ve spent too much time sitting behind my desk or even in the same branch, it’s time to move around and see what’s happening across the offices, or time to attend one of the VBA’s great education and training events, which always leave me feeling reenergized! When I need to clear my head, I’ll lace up my running shoes or clip into my Peloton, pop in my earbuds, and disconnect for 30 minutes.

Through programs like the VBA Internship Program, you have been a cheerleader for our industry by sharing with college students the many opportunities and benefits of a career in banking.  How can bankers work with younger generations to attract them to the industry and strengthen the pipeline of talent?

With retail folks being the face of the bank, I think there’s a perception that to have a career in banking you must become a teller, CSR, or lender.  The VBA Internship Program and the Bank Day Scholarship Program are two great opportunities for us to share the benefits of a career in our industry with younger generations.  In addition to these two programs, PVNB has also had the chance to participate in a summer program at UVa-Wise where we discussed banking careers in both IT and marketing and even assigned students a consulting project relative to IT challenges in our industry.  As our industry continues to change with digital banking demands, it’s a great opportunity for us to highlight the interesting and stimulating work that comes along with these changes, while also providing stability and structure for growth for our employees and support for our communities.

Your bank is active in promoting financial education programs in your community. Talk to us about your participation in those programs and the benefits that you’ve seen firsthand.  

As a community bank, financial education is at the core of who we are.  We have participated in nearly all the VBA/ABA programs with the Bank Day Scholarship Program and Virginia Reads One Book being top favorites for me.  The Bank Day Scholarship Program provides us with a great opportunity to tell our story while educating high school students on banking fundamentals and career opportunities in banking that they likely didn’t know about.  These students usually have questions for us surrounding student loans and understanding credit, and while they see our bank name and logo at sporting events at their local schools, they are usually surprised to see just how much our bank does to support the community.  There’s nothing like being part of a schoolwide assembly at an elementary school for Virginia Reads One Book.  There’s so much energy and excitement in the school, and what a rewarding experience to watch a child’s face light up when you hand them their own book!

Tell us how you initially became involved with the VBA Emerging Bank Leaders (EBL) and why you decided to champion the group by becoming its chair. 

When I attended the Virginia Bankers School of Bank Management, the Emerging Bank Leaders group had recently been reintroduced from the previous Young Bankers Section.  I joined the EBL during my first year of Bank School as a way to stay engaged with my peers after a week of networking and forming new friendships with bankers across the Commonwealth.  I love this group!  It is made up of a diverse and bright group of people who challenge me to be a better banker and person, and I am excited for the opportunity to chair the group this year.

What is your favorite VBA or EBL memory?

I can’t choose just one!  My top memories include 3rd year Bank School bank simulation, Virginia Reads One Book at Elk Knob Elementary School, attending the ABA Convention as an Emerging Leader in Nashville, and the 2022 VBA Annual Convention celebrating Leton with our team.

With the new year upon us, what recommendations do you have for EBL members looking to engage with the association in 2023?

In the spring, Burgers with Bruce is a great way to connect or reconnect with EBL members in your region.  Save the date for the EBL’s Leadership Conference in November!

Finally, as we start the new year, what is one challenge you are looking forward to tackling in 2023 (personally or professionally)? 

I became HR Director for PVNB when my predecessor retired in April 2020, just as the COVID pandemic took off, and I feel like I spent 18 months treading water in the deep end with vaccinations, isolations, and quarantine periods.  I am so thankful we have that behind us, and I am looking forward to spending the year continuing to modernize and streamline our HR department processes, while also throwing a few irons in the fire with new electronic banking products.

“Lightning round” questions:

  • Early riser or night owl? Early riser
  • Your leadership style in one word. Empathetic
  • Guilty pleasure food? Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs
  • Favorite weekend activity? Always in a gym cheering on UVa-Wise Basketball or my kids
  • Best part of your job? The people.
  • What is the best book or podcast you’ve read or listened to in these last few months? Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid