Spotlight on Maine Young Professionals
By Jennifer Sirois
On a sunny afternoon in May 2001, I received a call from my father, a long-time Risk Management Association board member. He was calling to congratulate me on winning the RMA Maine Chapter Scholarship that year. Of course I was excited (I was getting money for school, which otherwise would have had to come out of my pocket), yet I really didn’t know much about RMA or what it stood for. I graciously accepted my award at the annual dinner at the end of May and went on with my life.
Fast-forward four years to my first full-time job. I was fresh out of graduate school with a Master of Business Administration degree and eager to make my mark in the banking industry. A few months into my career with TD Banknorth, I was approached by then-RMA Maine Chapter President Tom MacDonald and asked if I would be interested in starting the first Maine Chapter Young Professionals Group. I thought this would be great opportunity to “make my mark,” so I accepted, not really knowing what to expect. I quickly sent out a desperate e-mail for help from people I hardly knew within the bank and was surprised at the response I received. After recruiting a few people and receiving tips from board members about other young leaders to contact at different institutions, the Young Professionals Group had an instant board of directors. Little did I know what this group would achieve over the next 12 months.
Over the next year the Young Professionals Group put on events such as Lending Horror Stories, Strategic Business Writing and a Night with the Portland Sea Dogs. With the energy and commitment from this new Young Professionals Group, it became apparent that we had started something that would be a great asset to the RMA Maine Chapter. I could never imagine how one person (who knew no one in the banking industry) could make so many lasting friends and colleagues in such a short amount of time and have so much fun doing something related to work!
After completing our inaugural year, the Maine Chapter thanked our group by funding a trip for two of our board members to the annual Chapter Leaders Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., sponsored by RMA headquarters. I had the pleasure of going, along with Kelly Leavitt, the president-elect for the 2007-2008 year. We had a blast! The conference provided us with so many ideas and tools to improve our group and the events we offer. We also met a lot of influential and knowledgeable people, who have proved to be great resources not only for our Young Professionals Group, but for our banking careers too.
When people ask me what RMA is all about, I usually pause, because it has given me so many things. Yes, it has given me training courses and educational materials, but more importantly it has given me a venue to explore leadership roles, to meet new people, to make friends and to make myself a more marketable asset to the banking industry as a more educated and respected credit risk professional.
Jennifer Sirois is president of the RMA Maine Chapter Young Professionals Group. For more information on joining the RMA, please contact her at (207) 828-7162 or Jennifer.Sirois@TDBanknorth.com.