Meredith Strieff describes herself as an accidental banker. In the over 15 years Strieff has worked at Horicon Bank, beginning as a part-time teller in 2007, she has worked her way through the ranks to her current role as vice president – retail branch & sales training, where she manages several teams of retail trainers and virtual bankers. Recently, she also completed her first year at the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Graduate School of Banking.
What started as a part-time role soon amassed into a passion for the industry and serving the community. As the incoming 2023–2024 BOLT (Building Our Leaders of Tomorrow) Chair, Strieff is excited to inspire the over 500 members of BOLT to further develop their leadership skills, connect with other emerging leaders, and expand their engagement as advocates for professional development and the industry.
What put you on the path to a career in banking?
I was first going to school at UW-Green Bay, and I had nearly completed my degree to become a nurse. But life happens. I meet my husband, and we moved to Colorado. After a year, we moved back to Wisconsin and I began working part-time as a teller at Horicon Bank. During that time, I also shifted my focus to business management with an emphasis in finance. A year later I graduated with my degree from UW-Green Bay.
What inspires the work you do each day?
Our customers. My job is not necessarily customer facing — I don’t see as many customers as I use to — but everything I do, the decisions I make, and the strategic plans I help put in place, all impact our customers.
My role is mainly behind the scenes. I make sure that our team members have the tools and resources internally that help provide a great experience and enrich the lives of our customers with each and every interaction. As a community banker, I care about the communities we serve and am passionate about ensuring that they have access to resources that will make their lives easier and better. I am inspired to not only provide these tools for others, but to help my team members have the same ability and mentality to create these opportunities.
How did you first hear about BOLT? Why did this opportunity seem like a good fit for you?
I first heard about BOLT from one of my senior managers at the time. He had attended a previous summit and thought it would be a great opportunity for me and a handful of my peers at the bank. Of course, like many new bankers, I was skeptical and shy. However, since my first event, I have been hooked because of its applicability to so many roles and experience levels as well as the breadth of resources provided.
As I continued my involvement with BOLT, I never felt that I did not belong — BOLT has always been a welcoming and comforting environment. Even as a baby banker, the topics discussed helped me make sense of the industry and my role in shaping it. Even though I was not in the position to make organizational decisions 10 years ago, BOLT helped prepare me with the tools that would be make me ready for when that next step presented itself.
How has participating in BOLT impacted your career thus far?
BOLT provided me the opportunity to gain education that expanded beyond the training I received at the bank. At a high level, attending the BOLT summits helped me early on to understand how our industry works. Now, I continue to learn more about how the banking industry is evolving and how I can be proactive.
With so much information out there, it can be overwhelming for a banker — new to the industry or even those with decades of experience — to understand the intricacies. BOLT narrows that scope and helps future leaders understand where they can take initiative and ownership to educate themselves even further.
What is an experience that BOLT provided you with that you may have not otherwise had to chance to try?
I was asked to facilitate a round table at one of our summits, and I was extremely nervous! It was my first opportunity to be in the spotlight. But with the great support of my peers and the team at WBA — I just dove in. It ended up being the best conversation and experience that started with something as simple as leading a discussion, asking the questions, and helping people get that first conversation going.
Having the opportunity to take part in this experience really gave me the confidence I needed to navigate conversations and in speak up about my thoughts. Oftentimes, we see speakers and presenters at events and think to ourselves “there is no way I could do that,” or “they are that good because they do it all the time.” BOLT helped me realize — just by giving me the opportunity to try in a real, low stakes setting — that I can do these things too.