Sue Wagner, Bank of Colorado
2017 Women of Distinction - Banking
Know your uniqueness rather than imitating someone else’s.
That’s the basic advice Sue Wagner offers women. She bases the suggestion on her experience of more than 30 years in a branch of the banking industry that’s seen more men than women.
“When I started, there were no women lenders, but now we can go head to head and toe to toe with anyone,” she said. “Women don’t need to emulate men. We just need to remember that we have our own style and our own skill set.”
As senior vice president of Bank of Colorado in Fort Collins, Wagner does a lot of construction lending — another inroad she made early in her career. “You didn’t see a lot of women doing this when I started,” she said. “The jobs were dominated by men.”
She believes that the ability to build relationships is one of the unique skills women bring to the workforce. “That’s what’s important in the banking industry,” she said, “to be able to build longevity and sustainability through relationships.”
It’s what Wagner loves most about her job — “that and the ability to help a community grow.”
It’s a mutual benefit. Volunteering adds to both the reach of nonprofits and to an individual’s professional development. The groups with which Wagner volunteers include CARE Housing, Reflections for Youth and the Fort Collins Rotary Club.
“It’s a great way to get involved in actions more than words,” she said. “We’re a community bank and we encourage community and volunteer involvement.”
Wagner connects the work she’s done as a business banker with her various volunteer roles. “From my standpoint, the work I do in construction lending fits with my volunteer work with causes like housing affordability,” she said. “I didn’t plan it but volunteer interests come from who you are and what your skills are.”
“Sue has been on several nonprofit boards and has been involved in raising funds for them and the initiatives they support,” said Christian Bordewick, Bank of Colorado branch president. “She does this with a can-do attitude and always has the community these groups support in mind.”
To Wagner, helping people includes internal as well as external connections. As a mentor, she stresses the need to be flexible in order to see where a person’s interests and skills intersect. “It’s fun to help interns and management trainees grow and develop.”
Working to keep a balance with personal, professional and volunteer involvement is paramount in her opinion. “You have to remember all the legs of the stool,” she said.
For Wagner, it all overlaps.
“It’s why life is so good in Fort Collins,” she said. “It’s big enough but small enough. You can’t help but run into someone you know when you go to dinner here.”