Evelynn Porter of Santa Rosa’s Poppy Bank wins North Bay Women in Business award
Evelynn Porter says one of her biggest accomplishments was buying a house at age 28. She is a 2020 North Bay Business Journal Women in Business Awards winner.
Professional background: 27 years in banking
Education: Napa High School and many industry-specific, continuing education classes.
Tell us about yourself and your company: Poppy Bank is truly an amazing place to work and I have felt that since day one. I respect the leadership team, which is essential for me. Our commitment to serving our communities and providing the best products and services has propelled our success.
Poppy Bank is 5-star rated by BauerFinancial and is recognized as one of the strongest financial institutions in the country. The ICBA also ranked us as one of the best-performing banks in the nation!
My first-ever banking job was at Wells Fargo in downtown Napa. They had a real stagecoach inside the bank! I was surrounded by strong, professional women who encouraged and supported me.
From 1993 to 2001 I held many sales-focused and/or operational positions. In 2000 I joined WestAmerica Bank and found my home in commercial lending. I moved to Santa Rosa in 2013 and joined Poppy Bank thereafter.
Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?
In the past year, I am most proud of surpassing a professional goal I set in December 2019, before we had even heard of COVID-19.
I stated I would have $40,000,000 or more in my pipeline by May 3, 2020. When the shelter-in-place order took effect, I was unsure my goal was still feasible, but I reminded myself I am a woman who produces results regardless of the circumstances.
I knew it was a great opportunity to see what I am made of. I believe this attitude and my resulting success are why I was nominated for this award.
What is the achievement you are most proud of?
One of my biggest achievements was buying a house when I was 28 years old.
Coming from living in apartments in my childhood and being raised in the welfare system, I told myself very young that I would live differently than my mother. So when I was 28 and a single mom and I purchased a home in Napa, I felt an immense feeling of accomplishment.
At the time I had worked in banking for seven years and was very driven to provide an amazing life for myself and my daughter. It was pretty cool when my nine-year-old told me, “Mom, I noticed we live in a much nicer home than all my friends.” That was a moment I will never forget.
What is your biggest challenge today?
My biggest challenge today is maintaining my desired fitness level and having good spending habits. I believe in the term “mind, body, and spirit” so I like to stay fit and spiritually nourished.
Words that best describe you: Qualities that move me forward are staying motivated, courageous, joyful, excited about life, inspiring, confident and loving.
In what ways have the pandemic and the shelter-in-place orders changed who you are as a person that will be a part of you long after the pandemic has passed?
At first it was somewhat nice to have my world shrink to work and home. At some level it felt similar to life before cell phones and social media.
However, I now have a renewed desire to travel and am reminded of the importance of good financial health with small amounts of household debt. I’m pretty sure our grandparents’ generation tried to tell us this!
Also, what ways do you think it will change the way you go about your career and your business?
My business is predicated on a cornerstone of the 5 C’s of lending: Character, Capacity/Cash Flow, Capital, Conditions, and Collateral. These have not changed in decades. It is a little unnerving to know all businesses except for a select few can be shut down and told they are not allowed to operate. That is scary and new.
And when it comes to the COVID-19 issue, what are some the lessons learned for the business community?
Mindset is very important. If you live in fear, creation is limited and so are solutions. Listen to uplifting messages or motivational speakers who have overcome adversity. Have conversations based in positivity and forward movement.
Stay out of complaint. Complainers find more complainers, and not a lot gets created in those conversations. Jim Stovall said one of the best generations came out of World War II and the Great Depression when, to quote Charles Dickens, “It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness… it was the season of Darkness, the spring of hope...”
As a successful female professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?
One of the biggest obstacles is holding myself back based on what others think of me. I call this my “look good program.”