Education: Bruno-Pyatt High School
Professional background: Martens’ banking career began 22 years ago, and she was named president of Signature Bank of Arkansas’ Bentonville market in April 2013. Before that, she had been with Harrison-based Community First Bank since 2002. Martens is also chair of Signature Bank’s Bentonville board of directors.
How did you get into the banking business? There was a loan assistant position opening at Superior Federal Bank in Harrison in 1994. My local banker encouraged me to take the position, and it sounded like a great opportunity.
What do you consider to be your biggest career break? Wilson Moore was the president of Boatmen’s Bank in Harrison. He called me to talk about a marketing/business development position that had just opened up after someone with more than 20 years of experience had retired. With little to no experience, he believed in me and offered me the job. From the beginning it felt like a natural fit. I loved to market our brand and because I felt like we had the best bank in town it was very easy to tell people about it. After that great opportunity I have never looked back.
What is the best advice you ever received? Invest in people. You can never have too many friends. I have loved serving the people of Harrison, Pea Ridge and now Bentonville. And the best part is that it has allowed me to build friendships that have endured, even though my work has taken me all across Northwest Arkansas.
What’s something unique about you that not everyone knows? I am a country girl. I was raised in downtown Chicago until fourth grade then moved to Bruno, Arkansas. We lived on a farm and always had a big garden. We canned most of our vegetables and Dad raised our own beef.
How will the banking industry change in the next decade? I think technology will continue to be a priority over the next decade. Today’s consumer is looking for convenience, and it’s our job to make banking as accessible and convenient as possible.
When you accepted the job as Signature Bank’s Bentonville market president, how had your career up to that point prepared you for that role? Getting to experience many jobs in several different roles and always having a passion for people/relationships/teamwork led me to this position. The biggest piece of preparation was being in the community. My 22 years of experience and the diverse roles I assumed over those 22 years helped me understand the needs of the institution, but my time in the community helped me understand the needs of the people.
What are some of the biggest issues on your plate these days? What is getting most of your attention? As everyone knows, the market in NWA is booming especially in the Bentonville area. Continuing to grow our bank in this ever-changing, fast-growing market is one of the issues we face.
What sort of civic endeavors are you involved with? I am a member of the Bentonville Garden Club, board member for both the Trike Theatre and the Hope Cancer Resources Foundation.
Favorite cause or charity? I have a heart for children. I think it is so important to invest in their lives. One of the organizations that I get to be part of is Trike Theatre. Trike is a nonprofit focused on teaching life skills through theater skills. Trike encourages students to be creative and courageous in all they do. It teaches them to take risks, reminds them that success won’t always come on the first try, and sometimes we learn as much from the rehearsal and the practice as we do from the final performance.
What advice can you offer to women who want a career in the banking industry? Don’t put limits on yourself. You can do anything if you have a passion or desire. My dad always told me I can do anything and I believed him. I have overcome many obstacles in my life. If I had a desire or a passion for something, I gave it my all and never looked back.
What is the most important business lesson you’ve learned in your career to date? Listen and invest in people and never judge a book by its cover. Every time I meet someone new they have a story to tell. You can’t assume anyone’s situation by their clothes, their vocabulary, or the car they are driving. If you truly care about people, you get to know the story so you know how to best serve the individual. When you start making assumptions, you do yourself and the customer a disservice.