Moving the Industry Forward: Sherri Sackett
Select Bank recently announced Sherri Sackett, who currently serves as executive vice president and chief operating officer, will become CEO of Select Bank effective January 1, 2023. Sherri is a founding member of the VBA Executive Women in Banking Peer Group and a strong supporter of the VBA and Virginia’s banking industry. In this feature Q&A, we invite you to learn more about Sherri, her path to success and her passion for elevating women in the banking industry.
Tell us about how you got to where you are today professionally.
I have always been driven to find my own path. When I began my career in banking there was no job too small or too large that I would not tackle. If I did not know how to do something, I would find someone within or outside of my organization to assist me. I thrive on finding a solution to a challenge and the personal development I achieve from the process…and I have always loved being a part of team and am now enjoying leading a team. I have been fortunate to have experienced forming two de novo banks early on in my career. Forming a de novo community bank is a tremendous experience and quickly taught me about the industry. Having a 30,000-foot view of banking enabled me to digest the why and the how of a community bank. Building two de novo banks from the ground up, raising capital, receiving regulatory approval, building infrastructure and two successful community banks has given me great insight. Sitting across from regulators, investors, boards and the trust that you gain from an investor investing in something you have helped create has enabled me to be confident and remain poised for the next opportunity. And I still pick up trash in our parking lot on a daily basis and am not afraid to jump in and do whatever it takes to help our team achieve success. I have grown the most throughout my career by doing the things that most people don’t like doing and not allowing failures to disrupt my momentum.
If you had to describe your life in three sentences, what would you say?
I have a very full life where I am surrounded by family, my two strong-willed girls and dear friends. I have experienced visiting many diverse and beautiful places and hope to continue that journey always, as it has greatly shaped my development. I am extremely dedicated and loyal to those I serve and have the perseverance and determination to see whatever needs doing to the end, and my life reflects this.
How do you define success?
Success is whatever you make it and however you want to define it at any given time in your life. Currently in my career success to me is continuing to challenge myself to learn to be comfortable in doing things that make me uncomfortable. I think overall success has a lot to do with just going after what you want and being vocal about it to yourself and others.
Who has served as a mentor to you? Do you have any peers you consider mentors and how important has a peer network been to your career growth?
I have had the privilege of working alongside several mentors inside my organization long-term, who have given me many opportunities. Those mentors have been male and in executive leadership roles. We have been successful as a team by realizing the strengths we each have and how we can collectively use those together for optimal results. As our success has grown so have the opportunities. I have a key group of peers that I have bounced goals and ideas off of for many years. They have been in and outside of the banking industry. My peer network has been vital to my continued success. The confidence-building, the idea sharing and support we provide to each other to this day have always been my greatest resource in shaping my career and not to mention making it more enjoyable. I find watching my peers grow and succeed to be extremely rewarding.
Where do you find inspiration and motivation both personally and professionally?
From a professional standpoint, I am motivated and inspired daily to help others and grow our community. The relationships that a community bank creates are truly unique, where customers really do have “their banker” to call on. I take great pride in having a career that I know truly makes a difference to local businesses, families, and our entire community. Personally, my daughters inspire me daily. I hope that my career and my journey provide them with the permission they need to seek out their own path. To discover their own story and to join me as I continue to navigate and pursue my own.
From whom do you actively solicit feedback and how has the feedback impacted your career?
I actively engage in working with a mentor or coach on a regular basis. I seek feedback from these relationships, and they have helped me see myself in ways I could have never seen myself. My current life coach has been both a professional NFL player and coach. This has been one of the most unique coaching experiences I have had. His ability to help me navigate through some life-changing decisions and provide candid yet encouraging feedback has been extremely impactful.
How much do you separate your personal life from your career life? Why?
There are times where I unavoidably have a blurred line between my personal life and career life out of necessity. Finding separation continues to be of my greatest career challenges. I strive to commit myself to family and friend time where we can focus on an activity and often take my girls to the park for a picnic or the tennis court where we can escape our mobile devices and connect. I have times during the evening where I turn technology off, face down and focus on all around me. Life moves so quickly, and this time enables me to connect with myself and my family.
Some say that “done is better than perfect”? Do you agree or disagree and why?
It has taken me a long time to learn, and I am still learning this lesson, but I wholeheartedly agree. To achieve greatness, you cannot do everything perfectly. Trying to do so only holds you back and often becomes paralysis by analysis. Having something done timely and just good enough is better than trying to achieve perfection. Focus on perfecting only what will move the needle. Often the rest is just noise.
What would you do with it if you had an extra hour in the day all to yourself? How do you reward yourself after a long day?
I would spend the extra hour in the day with my girls doing something creative and I reward myself after long days by spending time outside. My favorite is tennis with family or friends or any activity that connects me with those I care about.
What boundaries have you set for yourself? How have these boundaries allowed you to feel that you have control over your schedule?
Hard boundaries for me include exercising daily, a healthy diet and time with family and friends. Finding time to take care of myself and connect with those around me helps me feel more in control of my day and my work, creating boundless energy.
What do you think women in the banking industry can do to support other women?
Listen, encourage, and help create expectations in others’ lives that they don’t readily see for themselves. Take the time to show there is a path to success and support without judgment. Include women in projects, initiatives and on your team when and where they can contribute the most. And remember to share, we all have our own journey to get where we want to be, each as unique as we are.
What resources do you lean on or leverage for knowledge, support, networking, etc. that you would recommend to other women in the industry?
Always have a key group of trusted peers in and out of the industry you can call on for advice and share information with as well as industry experts. The Virginia Bankers Association has been instrumental in helping me further my career by offering networking, committee, and board opportunities. The Virginia Bankers Association School of Bank Management as well as the LSU Graduate School of Banking have each significantly broadened my contacts and impacted my reach. I highly recommend and encourage attending both.
Morning Person or Night Owl or Both?
Oddly enough I am both, but at this stage in my career, I find being a morning person to be more productive overall. I love the quiet time an early morning provides to set my intentions for the day.
This changes over time. Currently, I keep coming back to The Inner Game of Tennis, it’s not just about tennis but about personal development and the mental state required to deliver peak performance and how you can cultivate that state in all areas of life.
Current Favorite TV Show or Movie:
I love most anything Quentin Tarantino produces and especially when he uses a creative genius of a woman as the lead.
Favorite Vacation Destination:
Anywhere I can be active and outside exploring, playing tennis, snowboarding, or fishing, so many great places to name!
Work Item You Cannot Live Without:
Last Thing You Listened to on Spotify (or similar app):
American Utopia-This Must Be the Place, David Byrne
First Thing You Do When You Wake Up:
Head to a studio fitness class where I can connect with others, which helps start the day with more energy, focus and clarity.
Last Thing You Do Before You Go to Bed:
Read to unwind and/or write down thoughts that might be overwhelming me for the next day ahead.