North Bay Business Journal asked 2019 Women in Business Awards winner Maryanne Harris to fill us in on her background, responsibilities and community involvement, and insights into what makes her a notable professional in the region.
Professional background: Banking industry for 37 years. My husband Harry and I have also owned two businesses over the years in Sonoma County.
Tell us about yourself and your company: I moved to Sonoma County in 1976 to go to college at SRJC. I met Harry and we were married in 1981.
`My career in banking started in 1982, it seems so long ago now. Over the past 37 years I have worked for all local banks in Sonoma County including Exchange Bank which I have been with for the past eight years and will retire here if all goes as planned.
Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?
I just served as the Go Red for Women Chair on May 10, 2019, our annual luncheon and 15 year anniversary of this event. We raised over $400K for the fight against heart disease and stroke, the #1 killer of Women today.
What is the achievement you are most proud of?
I got involved in the American Heart Association 22 years ago when my nephew Nathanael was born with a heart defect, I wanted to help. I started as a volunteer and I am proud to be a part of the fight against heart disease & stroke in women. My nephew has had three open heart surgeries to date and is a thriving 21 year old young man.
What is your biggest challenge today?
It has always been trying to do it all and well. I feel society asks women to be good at everything and it continues to be a challenge.
Words that best describe you: Fun, tall, ‘mother hen’ when it comes to my family and friends; planner; and sports fan.
As a successful female professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?
Equality in the corporate world has always been an obstacle, but we are strong and we will get through it with hard work and tenacity that we bring every day to our jobs.
Who was your most important mentor?
Debbie Meekins by far. She stands out as one of the first women bank presidents in the country. I remember reading an article on the front page of The Press Democrat about her and saying, “I would love to work for her.” I had my chance later that year and it was the best move I ever made in my career. All women could learn something from her!
What advice would you give to a young woman entering your profession or the work world today?
Nobody writes your story but you!!!
Typical day at the office: As a Business Development Officer with Exchange Bank most of my day is spent either with new clients which we are helping to follow their dreams of owning a business or buying a new location through our SBA program, talking to our existing Exchange Bank clients or in the field attending community events locally.
Best place to work outside of your office: I enjoy putting as much time into the community as possible when not in the office.