Welcome to the inaugural Personal P.O.W.E.R. blog! (P.O.W.E.R. stands for Potential Of Women Entrepreneurs Realized, Fidelity Bank’s business banking program for women for those of you new to our community!)
The stories we’ll be sharing in this series are important. Featuring women within the P.O.W.E.R. community, these stories will highlight our diverse community of entrepreneurs and their unique personal and professional experiences.
We have several goals for this blog series:
First of all, readers, we want you to know that you are not alone on your journey. At Fidelity, our consultative approach to working with our clients means we’ve had countless conversations about how complex, nuanced, and lonely it can be to turn a vision into a reality. We know the path to success is seldom a straight one, and now that you mention it, isn’t “success” a moving target, anyway? Through sharing these stories of women in our community, we want to assure you other people have felt what you’re feeling.
Moreover, through exploring these individual stories of ingenuity, perseverance, and growth, we aim to provide you with not only inspiration but also information you can use in your own careers and beyond.
So without further ado, let’s kick off this ambitious blog series with our first feature, highlighting the journey and accomplishments of Tammy O’Shea, Chief Marketing Officer at Fidelity Bank, without whom the Fidelity Bank P.O.W.E.R. program wouldn’t exist.
What’s your advice for fellow business women?
You have to be your own champion. Nobody likes a braggart but you really do have to sell yourself. When people believe in you, when they trust in you, when you develop relationships with them, it’s amazing what they’re going to let you take on. There’s been a lot of discussion on the disparity between what women earn and what men earn in the same position. It’s not fair and it’s not right, but the research shows that women generally don’t ask for as high a salary as their male counterparts. We tend to downplay our accomplishments, and that’s something we have to take responsibility for.
What’s Your P.O.W.E.R. move?
I’m kind of known for my shoes. People can’t believe I wear at least four inch high heels every day. Sitting down in heels, which I do a lot of nowadays, is nothing compared to wearing them for 12 hours on a retail floor which I did all through high school and college. But, on average men tend to be taller. What heels do for me, is that in many cases, they put me eye-to-eye with the man that I’m speaking to and that gives me more confidence. It helps me to stand a little taller. I feel like I have a more commanding presence and I feel more myself, more confident and stronger when I have high heels on. And I know that may sound crazy but for me it’s a real confidence booster.
Tammy’s Personal P.O.W.E.R. Story:
You might be surprised to learn that the P.O.W.E.R. program originated at Sona Bank in Virginia, and not with Fidelity. Tammy learned about the program from her friend and colleague Michelle, during a conference for marketing in the banking industry in 2015.
Though Tammy loved the idea and immediately recognized its potential, she was still new to the Fidelity Bank team and working on a major business rebranding project. “I sat on the P.O.W.E.R. idea for about a year. I knew if I sprung it on my employers, they’d think I lost my mind and worry I wasn’t focusing on the things they needed me to be focusing on at that time,” Tammy says of the program’s origins, giving us a glimpse at a knack for timing that has clearly served her well in her career.
That same knack for timing also made her appreciate that when the moment came, she’d have to move quickly in order to capitalize on social and economic trends within Fidelity’s community that made the program ripe for success. Planning ahead, she set the stage for success in order to be able to, as she says, “hit the ground running”.
This included a partnership with Sona Bank, with the goal of leveraging everything they’d created and learned from their program. It also included working with a group of charter members for Fidelity’s P.O.W.E.R. program to get their input and feedback on the program’s services. Today, just two years after launch, the program is already a key component of Fidelity Bank’s brand and business. It is both a meaningful source of business for the bank, and a meaningful platform for engagement within the local community.
This story is one of professional triumphs. But this is a Personal P.O.W.E.R. blog and we want our readers to come away with more than just the highlight reel– there are teachable moments in every story, and this one is full of them. Because while Tammy was relaunching the Fidelity brand and ramping up the P.O.W.E.R. program, her beloved husband Pat was dying.
Tammy recalls feeling helpless in the face of his diagnosis of incurable prostate cancer, a feeling familiar to everyone who has watched a loved one suffer. Yet, Tammy was able to find some amount of distraction through her work, drawing strength from knowing that what she was creating was something purposeful and important, and that Pat was proud of what she was building.
Despite the grief of losing Pat, she remains grateful that he lived to see her launch P.O.W.E.R. “I received Fidelity Bank board approval to launch the program while I was sitting at Tulane Medical and Pat was receiving his last chemo treatment,” Tammy recalls. “We had a lot to celebrate that night and we did with friends and family. Unfortunately his chemo was not a success but P.O.W.E.R. certainly has been an achievement.”
As businesswomen, there’s a lot we can learn from Tammy’s story. It’s a practical reminder to think strategically, to know your audience, and to be mindful of timing. It also drives home the importance of doing the right work with the right people. While nothing can make the death of a loved one easier, her work, the culture of her business community, and the unwavering support of her team helped to make it less hard. “I was very lucky to have such a supportive employer,” says Tammy. “I can’t thank Fidelity Bank enough for allowing me to do what I needed to do. Obviously, when you’re dealing with someone with a terminal illness, there are a lot of doctor’s appointments, and a lot of treatments. The bank invested in me and the technology I needed to still be successful.”