Born in rural Oklahoma, the oldest of six siblings, Lendistry’s Kathy Gonzales didn’t grow up with aspirations for a career in banking. Having only lived in rentals as a child, she instead dreamed of owning her own home, a goal she accomplished at 19. Her first home was a brand new, 3 bedroom, 2 bath ranch purchased for $56,000 and 3% down. An extraordinary accomplishment for a teenager now matter-of-factly recalled by a woman with an equally extraordinary career in banking.
While a position at a title company earned her the money for the downpayment on her first home, it was her next job as a secretary at Security Pacific Bank in downtown Los Angeles that launched her career in banking. What enabled Kathy to buy her first home would also be what helped her find success in the intimidating corporate culture of a major city. A poor kid from Oklahoma with only a few semesters of college under her belt could make it in a field dominated by men with Masters degrees if she outworked them.
“I learned at a very young age that hard work, perseverance, and my faith were critical to how I would build my career,” Kathy said. “I’ve not always been the smartest person in the room–there will always be others who know more–but I can outwork anyone, anytime, in any room.”
Under the mentorship of one of the few female executives in the company at the time, Kathy also learned a lesson about success that might not go over well in today’s workplace. When hoping for a promotion, her female boss took her shopping for new suits and a new hairstyle. Appearing like a polished professional helped Kathy feel like one and be treated like one by her peers. Although she admits her boss’s actions would probably be an HR issue today, it was a turning point in her professional life.
Kathy’s career has been a steady rise up the ranks including executive leadership roles at Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Provident Savings Bank. Now she heads Lendistry’s sales team, a departure from traditional banking but, as she puts it, “Fintech is the future.”
“Loans under a million dollars simply aren’t efficient or profitable for banks anymore,” Kathy said, “but, it’s a market that’s there and those customers need financing.” She explained it’s not just small-dollar loans that banks shy from, it’s people with lower credit scores or a past bankruptcy. “Real life!” she said.
With so much experience, success and drive, it begs to ask what advice she has to offer those wanting to make it in banking today. In a word, preparation. She advises anyone heading to a meeting or conference to do their research. Find out who is going to be there, make sure to remember their names and titles, read up on the topics to be covered, and engage in discussion. According to Kathy, “You get out of it what you put in.”