Berns Finds Right Fit in Banking
Kim Berns worked in the marketing communications industry after graduating from college, but six years ago learned of an opportunity to be a commercial lender at Bank Iowa. Wanting a career where she could “help others and make a difference,” she says banking provided exactly she was looking for. “I found a fit where I can grow personally, professionally and work to help businesses in my community thrive,” she said.
Berns now assists customers at Bank Iowa in the Lawler region as a relationship manager. “Banking is a cornerstone of a community,” she said. “And what a great honor to be involved with an industry that can make such a difference in people’s lives.”
What drove you to choose a career in banking?
Banking is my second career. After college, I worked in the marketing communications industry as a client relationship manager. I always said that I wanted to do something that would help others and make a difference. About six years ago, I learned of an available opportunity locally as a commercial lender, and after talking with Bank Iowa, the rest is history. I found a fit where I can grow personally, professionally and work to help businesses in my community thrive. My husband and I have two boys, so I am grateful to work for a community bank that values a work/life balance.
Describe one life experience that taught you a lesson you apply to your banking career.
I’m a talker by nature, but some of the best advice came from a very wise friend many years ago. To truly connect with people, the best thing you can do is listen. Truly listen. Don’t think about your response while they’re talking, but really listen to what they’re saying. In our business, it’s all about connection. Oftentimes, people have the basic need to be heard. They need someone to bounce their ideas off or just to process what they’re thinking. And that’s where we can build relationships and differentiate ourselves.
What is your best elevator pitch for why banking is a great career?
I’m a believer that banking is a cornerstone of a community. And what a great honor to be involved with an industry that can make such a difference in people’s lives. You get the opportunity to learn, grow and challenge yourself, all the while working with some of the best people. Your goal is to be a problem solver and become a trusted advisor for your clients. And being a part of a community bank that values you individually, you get the work/life balance that you can be involved in not just work, but community and family activities. It’s the best of both worlds.
How does getting involved with the Iowa Bankers Association help you and your bank?
It’s critical for a community bank to be involved on many levels. But for us as banking professionals, it’s not just a job, that’s something we believe in. I’ve found that by being involved with the IBA (most recently through the IBA Leadership Institute), there are many opportunities to grow personally and professionally, but most importantly, network with a group of industry peers. It’s amazing to see how a group such as the IBA has such talent and the ability to make such a difference and make connections for years to come.
When you’re not at work, what do you like to do most?
My family is my life! My husband and I are blessed with two boys — Riley (13) and Caden (11) — so our life is full of activities, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. When not at work, during the summer, you’ll find relaxing on our boat or camping. I love to cook, so I’m always trying new recipes and enjoy cooking for other people. I just don’t like to clean up!
What is a quote or guiding principle you live by?
“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”
— Alan Watts