Eric Bottolfsen

Interview with Eric Bottolfsen

Date: 3/27/2012

Name: Eric T Bottolfsen

Major, minor, and graduation year: Business Administration, Finance, 2008

Job Title: Banking Center Manager

Organization/ Place of work: Bank of America, Phoenix AZ.

You're a Banking Center Manager, what does that entail? What are your duties or responsibilities?

-I lead a team of various individuals in a retail bank environment. We have everything from bank tellers, to personal bankers, mortgage reps, and business specialists. My responsibility is to coach our team to help grow our business relationships with new and existing customers. Banking is ever-changing and our primary goal at this point is to expand the relationships that we have as far as deposits and loan volumes, as well as adding new customers to our existing client base, all the while maintaining high-customer satisfaction. There is definitely a regulatory and compliance piece as well that is at the base of everything we do.

What are the highlights of your job that you enjoy most?

-For the most part, I am the first manager that my team members encounter when working at Bank of America. Having the ability to have in-depth, career path discussions and sales coaching conversations really helps us shape and coach to each individual's career goals. Watching someone start as a teller, move into a banker role and eventually into another area whether it is a management or leadership position, or continue to work more in-depth with our customers is very exciting and rewarding.We have over 250,000 team mates.

What are the challenges that you face with your job that are not enjoyable?

-Banking has really received a negative rap over the last few years, some deserved and some not. I really have to juggle the regulatory environment and changes, my team's individual goals, the onslaught of negative media, and the ever-demanding customer appetite for what their idea banking should be and what the reality is, while focusing on increasing overall satisfaction with the bank.

How do you spend your work days? Do you spend a lot of time office/lab/meetings/outside/___?

- 95% of my work days are spent within my specific branch location. There are offsite trainings and meetings however a lot of this is now done remotely with the use of some sort of web-based program. I do wish I was able to travel more.

How did this type of job/field interest you and how did you get started?

-I was probably the only 16 year old kid who read the Wall Street Journal, so I always knew I would work in the finance industry. I started in investments and insurance a few years back before moving onto the front lines as a personal banker with one of our competitors. I have always been in sales since going door-to-door as a kid raising money for hockey so the opportunity to work with my customers on an individual basis and really focus on helping them succeed financially was something that really caught my eye as a great way to use my sales/customer service experience. After being very successful in the individual role, I had a leader at the time influence me to try out the management route, this ended up being a true calling for me. I have been in management ever since.

What qualifications did you need to obtain this job?

- I needed a bachelor's degree, sale, banking, and coaching experience.

What personal qualities or abilities do you believe contribute most to success in this job/field?

-I truly care about my team, my customers, and my company. This is not just a job for me. I want everyone on my team to be successful, I want my customers to meet and exceed their goals, and I want my company to be recognized for the work that we do. This is rare in this day in age where I feel there is a severe lack of loyalty and people are out for just a paycheck. Successful leaders need to model the way and if we don't care about our stakeholders how do we expect our team members to do the same? I am Futuristic, communicative, strategic, and passionate.

What organizations were you involved in College that helped you towards your career?

-I have been involved in a few different organizations. I was on the SUFAC committee (Segregated University Fee Allocation Committee), which was responsible for the funding or lack thereof for various student organizations. I was also on the Department of Business and Economics Committee; this was by far my favorite organization in college. We were the student liaisons for the DBE and were responsible for such things as the banquets, fundraising, and events. I have always known how to throw a good party. Oh, and I cannot leave out that I was the President of the Golf Club; this never hurts if you're in business.

What degree/s is appropriate for this line of work?

-I really feel, unless your degree is specialized, that you shouldn't let it define you. I have had mentors that were English majors, History majors, Economics majors etc. This is your one shot at life so go for what you're passionate about. I do feel a business degree is best because it does provide a solid base of concepts you'll use in the future. While I was in Graduate School for my M.B.A., I definitely had a leg up versus those who were more varied in their degree choices.

Where and/or what do you hope to be in 2-5 years? 5-10 years? What are the keys to this career advancement?

-I am working on becoming a Community Market Manager, in which I will be leading several banking center locations, and managing multiple teams. This way you are able to lead and develop an entire market and not just one location. 5-10 years is still undetermined for me. I have tossed around several ideas, whether I continue on the corporate route or transition into an entrepreneurial role. I am currently going full steam ahead in my current role learning as much as possible. The coaching and mentoring within my organization is invaluable. I can tell you one thing, I am going back to school for a Spanish certificate. I would recommend a foreign language minor to anyone thinking about going into business.

What was the best piece of advice you received and from who that helped you towards your career?

-Dr. Robert Beam at UWS was the first professor I had that really seemed to care about me and my future. He knew that I had ridiculous energy and may not have always been the most responsible student but he always had faith that I would do something great. He once told me to remember the University when I made my first million. He said when and not if. This has stuck with me ever since. There will be a scholarship from me in his name someday.

Do you have any advice or "words from experience" for a college student interested in this job/field?

-Be ready to work. If you want a desk job, this is not for you. This is all about sales, customer service, prospecting, community involvement, compliance, and teamwork. There is no cubicle and there is no set schedule and change is a constant. However, if you are ready to work, there are endless opportunities within my field/company.

If you knew all this back in college, what would you say were the most important classes? Is there anything you would have paid more attention to? Any additional classes you would have taken?

-Like I stated previously, I would have had a minor in Spanish Language, but I think the thing that I missed out on the most was the valuable work experience. I bartended my way through college which was fun, however, my peers that started in the banking centers while I was slinging whiskey are several years ahead of me today. My one piece of advice is network on campus, be involved, and gains a valuable internship or part-time job that will set you up for success outside of school. I know college isn't the same when you also have a "real" job but it really pays off in the long run. A waiter with a degree is still just a waiter.

In college, people claim that a bachelor's degree isn't enough anymore and that you need a master's or doctorate degree to get your foot in the door. What's your opinion?

-I might be a bad person to ask because since leaving UWS, I have actually attained two Master's degrees. I have a Master's of Management with a focus in Finance, and a Master's of Business Administration with a focus in Organizational Development and Business Leadership. A few things about this; these were not needed for my past or current positions; however, they are important for future leadership opportunities within my organization and many others. They truly have opened a lot of doors for me in my professional life. I also thought the process was a great experience and met a lot of really hardworking and like-minded individuals. Some of my best references have come out of my graduate work. Also, my company paid for half of it!