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Executive in Residence, Sara Walker

By Kyle Cable


This year UW-Parkside’s College of Business, Economics, and Computing program invited Sara Walker from Associate Bank to come talk to students, faculty and staff on campus.  Sara is an alumnus of the College and majored in Finance and Economics. She is currently a Chartered Financial Analyst, Senior Vice President, Portfolio Manager and Chief Economist at Associated Bank.

Her career didn’t start out as well as you would have thought based on where she is at today. She started out working in installment loan collection departments for M&I Bank. This required her to make calls to individuals that haven’t paid their loans, not an easy task for anyone.  After some time, Sara was ready for a change and made the request to her manager.  She felt she had more to contribute to the bank and was subsequently transferred into treasury management. This was significant, because she now had to deal with individuals that were seeking out her expertise in managing investments.

A few years later, Sara was ready for more change and decided to open up an investment firm with two other partners. It looked good at the start, but it ended up becoming difficult to secure clients.  Investors, even small investors like the extra security of investing with a reputable longstanding organization.

While working for her own firm, she decided to look into other employment opportunities, and was offered a position at Bank One. She accepted the position, and determined it was a good stable position, but wasn't going to be a good fit. After about six months she would was contacted by Associate Bank. Sara’s good friend was getting promoted to a new position and recommended her to replace him. If it wasn't for her taking a position at Bank One, he would have never considered recommending her. Everything happens for a reason, we just need to take risks that don’t always feel like the best fit for us.

During her presentation to students, she presented a graph of the probability of a Federal Reserve Rate Hike. What she wanted the audience to take from the graph was that no one knows for sure what the future holds. Another slide was the S&M Price Index, which showed changes in the stock market over the years. Basically, it reflected it’s a wise move to invest money in the market, especially when you’re young and out of college earning a good salary.  If you stay for the long term, most likely, in 20 years, you will have acquired much more wealth than having it sit in the bank.

Other advice to students?  Prepare yourself for the future and take public speaking classes. If you can be a good public speaker, you will be noticed and it can greatly enhance career possibilities. When presenting to others, use pictures and humor. Having a story associated with a picture and applying some humor in a presentation will always give your audience something to remember you by!

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