Nearly 20 years ago, she walked into a local Wells Fargo branch for an interview, dressed in one of her mother’s suits, and hoping to be hired as a personal banker. This was a big deal for a teenager, especially one who had been judged and discounted. But she believed in herself. Now, 19 years later, she is the bank’s Vice President – Regional Bank District Manager for Orange County, California. And she’s sharing valuable advice on achieving corporate and financial success.
Chamicka Pollock was nervous. She had applied to be a personal banker at Wells Fargo and now she’d been called in for an interview.
“I remember my interview so clearly because this was such a big opportunity to interview for such a well-known company,” Pollock told The Weight She Carries. “At the time, I was 19 years old. My mother helped me pick out one of her suits and told me to wear my eyeglasses to look a little more sophisticated. I remember going into the interview just as nervous as I could be, looking like my mother.”
She needed this job. At 17, Pollock had become a teen mother and had a son to take care of. Despite the added responsibility, she proved to be a quick study and was determined to be successful.
“On my first day of training, there were several leaders from various areas in the bank who had come to speak about their success journeys,” Pollock recalled. “I remember a market president coming in and I said to myself, ‘I want to do that job someday.’ While I haven’t gotten to that level, I remember the moment I envisioned that for myself, not knowing how to connect the dots to get there that early on in my career.”
Pollock has come a long way since that day. Ambition, a tenacious spirit and her innate ability to lead have served her well.
Within her first few years at Wells Fargo, Pollock’s responsibilities expanded to service manager, assistant manager and then store manager.
Six years in, she was promoted to Market Growth and Development Consultant. Three years later, she became a Regional Sales Development Consultant for Wells Fargo Insurance Services, and then transitioned to Regional Sales Manager for the bank’s Business Payroll Services two years later. By 2011, Pollock had become the VP, Regional Bank District Manager for the Washington D.C. Metro Area and transferred to Orange County, California, in 2015.
Today, Pollock directly manages 10 branch managers, each with a respective team. Altogether, she oversees 125 team members.
“I enjoy being able to lead a team and help customers achieve their hopes and dreams,” Pollock said. “As a leader, I have the opportunity to pour into others and that gives me such satisfaction, knowing that I’m making a difference in other people’s lives.”
For Pollock, being a leader has meant committing to her goal “1000 percent,” particularly because there aren’t many women of color at that level of leadership in the financial sector.
According to Government Accountability Office, women accounted for roughly a quarter of senior management in financial services in 2011 in America. Of that percentage, just 13.5 percent were minority women, while 83.5 percent were Caucasian women.
[ctt template=”5″ link=”f1v_T” via=”no” ]“When you get that invitation to the party, you show up and your presence is there. But real inclusion happens when you’re invited to dance.” – Chamicka Pollock[/ctt]
As a woman, and a woman of color, Pollock is a minority twice in a male-dominated industry. Instead of being deterred, she has learnt to explore different avenues to get to the same place as her male counterparts.
One of those avenues has been creating mentorships for herself.
“Anytime you are a minority in a group, you sometimes can be isolated. You have to be able to break through from that and not let it limit you. Really embrace your difference and build relationships. Having that social capital is so important because as you have mentorships, you develop relationships, and then you have someone that’s advocating for you.” – Chamicka Pollock
In many cases, the glass ceiling is a reality for women, but what it all boils down to, Pollock said, is finding ways to break through and not accepting labels the world places on you based on gender or ethnicity.
“I remember instances where I was the only woman on a team, and I felt I was being dismissed sometimes during conversations, and people would speak over me,” Pollock said. “And as a young woman, I was always taught to be respectful and courteous in how you interject. In business, you certainly want to have respect, but you also need to make sure that your voice is heard.”
Over the years, Pollock has climbed the corporate ladder and learned how to leverage everything at her disposal to inch closer and closer to her goal. Being immersed in the financial sector has allowed Pollock to identify common mistakes people make when it comes to their financial stability. She has achieved financial and personal success and believes others can do the same by focusing on five key things:
- Understand money
A lack of knowledge on how money works can lead to serious financial trouble.
“You don’t learn this in grade school or in high school…not even in college, depending on what your major is. We often don’t start out with a clear understanding of budgeting and what credit is,” Pollock said.
2. Budget well
Take the time to study your spending habits and adjust them accordingly to stay within your budget.
“You have to learn to live within your means and to be able to save for a rainy day,” Pollock said.
3. Pay yourself first
People have a tendency to focus on paying their bills and other expenses first, and then save whatever is left. It actually should be the other way around, Pollock said.
“Pay yourself first so you have that emergency fund. Also allow yourself to have a raise sometimes. Every year increase the amount that you’re putting aside for your savings,” she said.
4. Have a goal each year
Pollock said it’s not enough to have a dream, you have to be intentional about it.
“Have a goal each year, and there’s something powerful about putting it on paper. Without a plan you are really just lost, and you’re just going through life…going through the motions,” she said. “When you have a plan and a purpose, you begin to walk into that destiny. Once I started doing that, doors just began to open.”
5. Set aside some “me” time every day
“For me, it’s an hour a day. I carve out 30 minutes for some type of physical exercise. Then I spend 20 minutes doing something I enjoy. The last 10 minutes is spent on doing something for my soul. That’s either my prayer time, meditating or reading my Bible,” Pollock said. “My faith is very important to me.”
Pollock has achieved so much professionally over the last 19 years, but said her two greatest achievements are raising her son – whom she had when she was a teenager – and two other children, and learning to love herself unconditionally.
“Being where I am today and being comfortable in my own skin, being my authentic self, getting to a place where I’ve accomplished so much professionally and personally in a world that is constantly trying to put labels on you, and trying to establish who you should be – that’s an accomplishment to me,” she said.
Pollock enjoys success today because she believed in herself, refused give up, and wouldn’t let anyone label her or tell her what she could not achieve.
“Don’t let the world tell you what you can’t do. If I did that, I wouldn’t have finished high school. Because, immediately, the world wanted to judge me the moment I announced that I was with child at 17 years old.” – Chamicka Pollock
To young mothers who have dreams and are trying to figure out how they will achieve their dreams while caring for their kids, Pollock is proof that both are possible.
“Don’t put your goals and dreams aside,” she said. “In everything, you need a plan. Write down your dreams, your goals, your aspirations…making sure that being a mother comes first. But work towards your goal one day at a time.”
Vimbai E. is a writer, journalist, ghostwriter and the founder of The Weight She Carries. With hundreds of articles publishing online, in print and for broadcast, her love of language and storytelling shines through every piece of writing that bears her name.