Senior Vice President, Chief Compliance Officer
Heritage Southeast Bank, McDonough, GA
Member, GBA Compliance School Board of Directors
Q: What was your first job, and was there a lesson you learned there that you still use today?
A: I was always working, even as a little kid. I copied jokes out of the Readers’ Digest, typed them on construction paper and sold them for a nickel to my neighbors as “Pam’s Jokespaper.” Even then, I was a “compliant” little entrepreneur, because I cited my source as the Digest. My first “real job” was as cashier at a place called Duff’s Smorgasbord, an all-you-can-eat buffet in Columbus, Ohio. One my duties (again compliance-related, go figure!) was to police people who were trying to sneak food out of the restaurant in a bag or purse. This was not allowed, but we had to express that it wasn’t allowed in a kind and courteous manner. For example, we had to say, “Ma’am, I’m sorry to say that carry-out is not permitted. However, if you want to enjoy the items you placed in your purse, here on the premises, I will be happy to find you a new table.” And we had to counsel the customer quietly and privately, not embarrass them in public. I have always remembered to do that with my banking counterparts, when I have to explain a compliance requirement: privately, professionally and with courtesy and good manners.
Q: What drew you to a career in the banking industry and/or bank regulatory compliance?
A: My first job out of college was at a stock brokerage firm that, despite its then-stellar reputation, was eventually shut down by the SEC for illegal activities. And even though the bad behavior was all the way at the top of the company, everyone suffered from these dastardly deeds. One day we showed up for work, and we were escorted into the building by SEC officials to gather up our personal belongings from our desks. Just like that, in the blink of an eye, the firm’s more than 30,000 employees across the USA (more than 29,900 of whom were NOT doing anything wrong) found themselves instantly out of a job. Our customers found their investments declined dramatically, or even wiped out entirely. It was then that I saw firsthand why compliance was important, and also why I decided to move into traditional banking, where the likelihood of wrongdoing was lower.
Q: When you think about the future of the banking industry, what makes you hopeful and what makes you concerned?
A: I am hopeful as to how banks, as the centerpiece of economic prosperity, have the most amazing opportunity to show the way forward economically for businesses and consumers of all kinds. I am concerned that the complexity of risks, type and volume of threats, and the speed at which technology and society are constantly changing, still present enormous challenges for bankers in keeping pace and responding appropriately. If banks can reclaim the public trust, confidence and engagement, we have the chance to help solve some of society’s most pressing problems. But to do that, we have to be willing to modernize not just our technologies, but also our ways of thinking, being and doing.
Q: What drives your involvement with the GBA Compliance School?
A: I was involved with the GBA Compliance School even before I made Georgia my home, and the biggest reason was the people! The professionalism and caring expressed by the School Board and faculty for the students and their professional development was only matched by the enthusiasm, sincerity and preparation of the students who attend the schools. It has been a fulfilling way of “giving back” to an industry I love so much. The GBA Compliance School presents the nation’s top instructors while keeping costs affordable for members. The time and care that go into curating the experience – from the where and how to the who, what and when – rival or exceed anything that happens anywhere in the country, even among larger trade groups. Having seen it done many ways over 30+ years, and by many different groups, I never cease to be amazed and impressed with how it all comes together whenever GBA is involved.
Q: What would someone be surprised to learn about you?
A: So many things! I started college on a vocal music scholarship and thought I was going to become a professional opera singer. (And this, not my demanding nature, is behind my nickname as “RegTech Diva.”) Sadly, I injured my voice while attempting a song that was out of my range and had to choose a different path. Outside of work, I am involved with paranormal investigations of historically-significant locations. For more juicy tidbits, come to a GBA compliance class sometime soon!