For Patricia Weigel, banks aren’t all about money. But it wasn’t always that way. She started out as a teller, entering the banking industry simply looking to pay the bills.
Now she is president and CEO of Norway Savings Bank, the first female president and CEO in the bank’s storied 150 year history.
That’s not the only first Weigel’s achieved at the helm of the Maine-based bank, though. She’s helped take Norway Savings Bank to new heights, achieving a series of milestones that can’t be called anything less than impressive.
Weigel sees the value of relationships and keeping a positive attitude when developing a company culture that will lead to success. It is a belief that’s helped her cultivate her own success, taking her far in the banking industry.
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When she first got into banking, Weigel had earned her undergraduate degree in psychology, with an interest and focus on organizational development. After graduating, she moved to Portland from Boston, but was unable to find work in her field. At a friend’s suggestion she applied to be a bank teller, and was hired on at Maine Savings Bank. She first worked as a float teller, working at a number of the bank’s branches, and was able to forge relationships throughout the company.
Weigel’s talent was soon recognized, and she was promoted to branch manager during her five years at Maine Saving Bank. Soon, she was scouted by another bank, Maine Bank and Trust, and moved into the role of branch manager at their Falmouth location. She wasn’t just in charge of a staff, though. Weigel also undertook small business and commercial lending during this time.
Weigel continued to move up in the banking world, taking on more responsibility, eventually serving as a regional vice president for Maine Bank and Trust.
In 2001, a new opportunity presented itself for the industry veteran. Weigel joined Norway Savings Bank as senior vice president and senior commercial lender, where she’s been ever since.
When Weigel joined Norway Savings Bank, the company was undergoing a merger, with two large banks with two different cultures melding into one. And Weigel, from a third bank, added yet another company’s culture into the mix. It was at this point that Weigel’s people skills and understanding of organizational behavior became invaluable. Using her collaborative leadership style, Weigel helped build the commercial area of the bank into a unified culture, one that led to strong commercial growth and expanded relationships.
At the time of the merger, Norway Savings ultimately used an outside consultant to help the bank build a “culture charter,” a document that Weigel describes as “The Bible of the way Norway Savings Bank likes to live.”
Weigel’s a big believer in how a company’s culture can drive its success. “You can teach skills, but you can’t teach attitude and drive or the ability to be a teamplayer, ” she says. People have to be able and willing to come to work each day and exhibit those traits, especially positivity. Without a positive attitude, Weigel believes, a company simply won’t thrive.
She credits her mentor, Bob Harmon, during that time as giving her the boost she needed to truly excel.
“He got me out of my comfort zone, and elevated me to important positions where I was overseeing people with more experience or knowledge than me, but I was able to effectively use the people skills I had developed over time,” Weigel explains. She also urges others to move out of their comfort zones saying, “It’s important for anyone’s career that they do that.”
Norway Savings Bank’s success has proved she’s doing something right.
The 150 year old bank hit the billion dollars in assets mark in 2015, four years into Weigel’s tenure as president. And, as Weigel explains, that mark wasn’t hit in an era of ease for banks.
“Interest rates are low, margins are compressed and the regulatory environment isn’t friendly to banks right now…The way people access their banks is changing with technology, and we need to change with them. Banks even have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media now, which means we need people to monitor those channels and use them effectively.”
So how will Weigel proceed? Positively, of course.
”I feel like I’m a steward of a long and rich history that all of us collaboratively are going to leave in a better spot than when we first arrived,” she says.
And she’s not just aiming at a better spot for her company. She wants to see growth in all of southern and western Maine, and that’s part of her mission in running Norway Savings Bank.
As she explains, “We exist to meet the needs of our communities, we try to reach out in whatever market we are in to make sure we are meeting the needs of consumers, small businesses and nonprofits, trying to be supportive where we can by supporting the arts, education, economic development.”
Currently, Norway Savings Bank is working on an expansion with the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland to finance a large expansion, a project she says the bank is very proud to be involved with.
One of Weigel’s economic development promotional tools shows her creativity and love for jumping into the community. Norway Savings Bank is in the midst of a three year sponsorship with BikeMaine, a seven day cycling tour founded in part to use cycling as an economic development tool for local communities. As part of the sponsorship, Weigel will ride a section of the Bold Coast, participating in a long distance ride from Milbridge to Schoodic Point this September.
Patricia Weigel has spent her entire life in a career she never expected to. She’s moved up through the ranks, learning along the way and impressing her supervisors and colleagues with her creativity and people skills. She is the first female president of a century and half old Maine company, and she’s taken the company to new heights — all the while encouraging her team to be a part of the success.
That’s why Patricia Weigel is a Maine Icon.