Women in Business: Natalie Bartholomew

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 2,239 views 

Class of 2018 Women in Business Natalie Bartholomew Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer Grand Savings Bank, Bentonville

Residence Prairie Grove

Education B.S., agricultural business, University of Arkansas; M.S., agricultural economics, University of Arkansas

Professional background Bartholomew has held the role of vice president for three banks in the Northwest Arkansas market in a career spanning 17 years. In 2017, the same year she joined Grand Savings, she launched The Girl Banker blog, advocating women in banking, working moms and community banking. She was named 2015 Young Woman of the Year by the NWA Business Women’s Conference, and is currently board chair of the Single Parent Scholarship Fund of NWA and on the executive committee of the Washington County Fair Association.

What inspired you to pursue your current career? My late grandfather, Wilford H. Thompson, was a vice president for Farmers & Merchants Bank in Prairie Grove for 45 years. He was my first real exposure to banking. He would bring home bank tickets, and I would use them to “play bank” at home. If I had to pinpoint my inspiration to be a banker, it would most definitely be him. He was able to make a positive impact on so many people through his role as a community banker, and I will never forget the stories I have had people tell me over the years about how he helped them get their first home, their first car or really a start in life … all on a handshake.

What qualities do you feel are most important in a company leader? A true leader identifies top talent, surrounds themselves with smart, hardworking team members and enables them to do their job by providing them the tools to be successful. Most importantly, they empower them to do their job without micromanaging them.

What is something unique people would be surprised to know about you? I have an identical twin sister, Lindsay West Kennedy, of Lubbock, Texas. I’m a huge Dallas Cowboys fan. I’m a farm girl. My family’s farm was founded in 1860, and my family witnessed the Battle of Prairie Grove during the Civil War. My sons are the sixth generation to be raised there.

I wish I knew how to … what? Do a back handspring or play the piano well. Also, I wish I could actually sing well.

What was your dream job as A kid? If you don’t count being an Olympic Figure Skater — I’ve only ice skated twice in my life — or a Rockette in NYC, then I’ve always really wanted to be a banker! I’m a third generation banker, following my grandfather and my mother.

Do you feel like we’re getting closer to gender equality in the workplace? I think it really depends on the industry and the culture of the company. We have several women in leadership positions at Grand Savings Bank, but as an industry, banking is not quite there yet. That’s why I launched my blog, The Girl Banker, last December to serve as an advocate for women in banking and inspire young women to consider banking and finance careers.

I find that in our industry, women are discouraged to fight the fight or to go out for executive or managerial positions due to being outnumbered by their male counterparts or the inability to find appropriate balance between family and career.

I have attended several banking conventions where women were only 10% of those in attendance. That doesn’t exactly send a message that we are nearing equality, especially when said conventions are for executives.

What’s the most important aspect of achieving a balance between your career and your family? There is no such thing as balance. Our society has created this idea that we must achieve balance in order to be successful at home or at work. I’m here to say that it absolutely does not exist. Let’s be honest, we all are in survival mode, and anyone who says they have it figured out is a liar. I feel like women in business would have less stress, less anxiety and more peace about their “balance” if we just didn’t create this expectation that there has to be any.

There are some weeks where I am killing it at work, but my kids and husband have cereal for dinner. Other weeks, I am baseball mom supreme, and I’m just not clicking at work. It happens, and it’s OK. I’m incredibly lucky to have a lot of help at home with a very supportive spouse and parents and in-laws who live close by. Honestly, I couldn’t do it all if I didn’t have their help. With a demanding, full-time job, an hour commute to work, two active kids, and a blog to maintain, there isn’t much time left to sleep, much less take care of myself. So, I call it survival mode, not balance.