When Kim Schaffer ’81, senior vice president at Park Bank, was researching educational options, she chose to enroll at Alverno College because the weekend college program was the best fit for her. She majored in Business Management, blending coursework with her full-time career and quickly discovered the Alverno education was extremely compatible with her own experiences in the banking industry.
“I was already practicing some of these concepts,” shares Schaffer. “At Alverno I learned the language and dialogue to understand how the 8 Abilities fit into and contribute to the situations and demands of my job,” says Schaffer. “A day doesn’t go by that I don’t incorporate problem solving, analysis or communication. This is essential to how I think and operate.”
As the Executive in Residence, Schaffer met with Business Management students from the weekday and weekend programs during several sessions and a luncheon on February 27, 2014. She shared stories, advice and insight from her career, and answered questions about the business world in candid conversations.
Schaffer recommends students set goals and build relationships to not only start but also further their careers. Networking, especially in the banking industry, is a key discipline for building relationships and really getting to know people and define their needs. Schaffer likened networking to a farmer vs. hunter method and explained which was more effective for her. “As a hunter you go in, obtain the goal and you’re done. However, with the farmer method, the relationship is cultivated and grows over time. This typically provides long-term and beneficial results,” says Schaffer, adding how important it is to her role in banking.
Goals are part of Schaffer’s development, as well. In 1990, she earned an MBA and, in 2001, completed a Graduate School of Banking course. In addition to her roles with Alverno, she is on the boards of the Rotary Club of Milwaukee and Zoological Society of Milwaukee and is a member of the MSOE executive motorcycle group and Professional Dimensions. Schaffer continues to seek opportunities to grow her skills and abilities; she will soon move into a new role of operations within Park Bank. “While my career remains focused on banking, I know I can still learn more – about processes, compliance and treasury management.”
It is not only Schaffer’s commitment to education but also her successful career and professional development that make her an ideal candidate to be the second Executive in Residence. She is established at a company whose values meshed with hers and was able to forge a successful career in an industry that continues to see females break through into executive management. “There are so many opportunities for women to take on leadership roles in companies and on boards. Women should not be surprised that this is an area for growth, and they should take that as incentive to go out and secure those positions.”
Also a member of Alverno’s Vanguard Society Member and the College’s Business Advisory Board, Schaffer advocates for alumnae to give back to Alverno however they can. “Reflect on the value you received from Alverno and make sure to give back. Support the College, be a mentor to students, do what you can.” As the students in the School of Business can attest, Schaffer’s enthusiasm and motivation make her a successful mentor as she serves as the second Executive in Residence for the School of Business and provides inspiration for the next generation of female executives.