Recently David Schwartz interviewed Michele Fernandez-Daniel, the current FIBA Chair. Michele has been in banking for more than 16 years and offers a fresh perspective to her role as FIBA Chair.
Michele began her career in corporate America, spending 6-7 years working in a call center in various sales positions. She eventually reached the management level just around the time that companies began outsourcing telemarketing jobs overseas. Seeing the writing on the wall, Michele decided to explore opportunities that would provide more job stability. Banking appealed to her because it focused on people and was not an industry that could easily be outsourced elsewhere.
Although banking appeared to be a good fit, Michele recognized that it was difficult to attain management status within a bank without prior experience. So, she took a job with a Fortune 100 company and worked her way up until she could transfer to the company’s banking department. Here Michele learned about compliance within the industry. Although the industry was very male-dominated at the time, she was fortunate to have good mentors (both male and female) who helped her advance in her career. In addition, her employer-provided excellent training and made diversity and inclusion priorities. Michele puts it best when she explains that inclusion and diversity are all about respect; “if we can respect one another and our differences, creating diversity and equality is easy.”
How Did Michele Become Involved with FIBA?
Michele was first introduced to FIBA when she worked for American Express and attended her first AML conference. FIBA has been a part of her professional development and networking strategy since the beginning of her career. Michele has maintained a connection to FIBA in one capacity or another for many years.
In terms of her platform as Chair for FIBA, she says her main goal is continuity. The last two years have been challenging for everyone shifting to a work-at-home environment. Her role as Chair will answer the question, “How do we keep FIBA going and help members get what they need to grow professionally and continue on the path to learning?” She is working tirelessly with the FIBA staff on meeting these goals.
Personally, Michele has faced the Covid challenges with an excellent support system and a great BCI team who has worked hard to keep things going and maintain consistency. Michele expects to see many organizations, including her own with BCI bank, continue with a hybrid remote-work model going forward. The important thing is retaining that connection between teams and not losing the culture. She suggests virtual coffee breaks, in-person lunches, or happy hours to foster engagement.
She states that one of the keys to advancing your career is education with a reputable organization like FIBA. FIBA has partnered with FIU to offer certifications. In addition, seasoned professionals who contribute to FIBA’s content and network add additional value.
When asked why it is essential to be a member of FIBA, Michele answered:
- The Network – FIBA provides access to a vast network of banking and related industry professionals you cannot get anywhere else.
- Educational Resources – The opportunity to gain access to a wealth of information through courses, webinars, and special events.
If you are not yet a member of FIBA, Michele urges you to join; you are missing out! She adds that FIBA is a great organization, a great value, and you won’t be disappointed.