Celebrating Women in Financial Services: Robin Cole, NCBA Associate Executive Director

Celebrating Women in Financial Services - Robin Cole

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In celebration of women’s history month, PDCflow is highlighting the work and journeys of a few women in the financial services industry. PDCflow’s Marketing Manager Dawn Updike had the opportunity last December to meet these women and see them present at insideARM’s Women in Consumer and Commercial Finance conference.

Each woman featured in the Women in Financial Services Industry series is unique in their career journeys, the responsibilities their jobs entail, and the struggles they have had. There are also commonalities in their experiences that other women in the financial services industry can relate to. My hope is to celebrate our diversity while acknowledging our similarities in order to encourage one another.

Our first interview features Robin Cole. She is the Associate Executive Director of the National Creditors Bar Association (NCBA), a bar association dedicated to serving law firms engaged in the practice of creditors rights law. In 2019, Robin was appointed by the NCBA Board of Directors to serve as Acting Executive Director and received the NCBA’s President’s Award for the work she did during that time.

Women in Financial Services Industry: Robin Cole, NCBA Associate Executive Director
Robin Cole

NCBA Associate Executive Director

What are your responsibilities as Associate Executive Director at the NCBA? What is a typical day like for you?

My responsibilities include implementation of strategic planning initiatives, member relations, collaboration on internal and external marketing and overseeing operations, as needed.

No such thing as a typical day. The day can be filled with committee meetings or completely open, but it is never boring.  My favorite part of any day is interacting with the members.

Continually in the process of being the best version of myself, through spiritual, physical, social, and intellectual pursuits, in my relationships, work, and service. Robin’s Personal Mission Statement

Every woman's journey is unique. What brought you to the financial services industry?

Fresh out of college, my first position was with a real estate title company, which combined financial and legal services. Since then, I have remained in the financial and legal services industries, in various capacities from examining titles, to marketing, to being a district manager, and then making the transition to the association world.

What brought you to where you are today?

I had taken time off to tend to my ill mother and through volunteer work, met the then-executive director of NCBA. I had it in my mind that when I was ready to be back in the work force, NCBA was an organization I was interested in. I started with NCBA in 2012 as the Membership Manager and have been the Associate Executive Director since 2014, with an eight month stint in 2019 as Acting Executive Director.

In your presentation at the Women’s Conference in December, you discussed imposter syndrome and knowing what you want in your career. Did you personally struggle with these?

When I was appointed as Acting Executive Director, it was due to the E.D. resigning unexpectedly so it was a bit of a surreal experience. I had been Associate E.D. since 2014 so felt prepared, but because it was so sudden, it did take some getting used to. “Tag, you’re it!”

I was very fortunate to have support from the staff, Board of Directors, friends and family. Particularly, members and colleagues reached out and offered their support and encouragement throughout the year. 

What worked for you in getting past these challenges?

Owning it. I had confidence in my abilities, and had (still have!) an amazing support system, both within the organization and family and friends.

What have you found to be your biggest challenge or hurdle in your career so far?

Limiting how much I take on, which results in spreading myself too thin.

Have you had mentors who helped you grow in your career? If so, how have they helped you?

In my first post-college position, my unofficial mentor told me when I was struggling with identifying what I did, “You create your job.” That has always stuck with me because I think there is always room for personal and professional growth.

You can certainly take on additional projects but you can also develop by talking with colleagues about what they are doing. You can learn so much about your field, if you ask open-ended questions. Start a question off with “Tell me about …….” and you will be amazed at what you learn!

Bragging time... what professional accomplishment are you most proud of?

In 2019, I received the NCBA’s President’s Award for the work that I did as Acting Executive Director. The purpose of the award is “to recognize the efforts of the recipient that were of such magnitude that the NCBA may not have achieved its current position of excellence without their efforts.”

Do you have any advice for women entering the financial services industry today?

Learn all you can and be sure to help a sister out. I think it is also important to realize when you have outgrown an organization or corporation. There are many players in this industry. Have the confidence in your abilities to know what you bring to the organization and don’t be afraid to market yourself.

A personal takeaway from Robin’s conference presentation in December was being clear on your goals and what you want for yourself. There may be a time when you are offered that promotion, a leadership position, or what would seem like the next step in your career, but that may not be what is right for you and the lifestyle you want to create for yourself.

Thanks to Robin for sharing her experiences and advice. Stay informed on the next interviews in this series and learn from the experiences of a variety of industry peers in our Thriving in Collections series. Sign up for the PDCflow Blog:

Dawn Updike - PDCflow Marketing Manager
Dawn Updike, Marketing Manager

Dawn Updike is a Marketing Manager at PDCflow. She has a background in Customer Success and has worked in the SaaS industry for over ten years.

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