Banking on Success
J. Ann Helms
March 1, 2008
Lori Chillingworth doesn’t forget who keeps her in business – and who keeps her successful.
“It’s the people around me,” says Chillingworth. “Surround yourself with great people – above you and those that work with you. They are the ones that drive your success.”
As the senior vice president and manager of the Zions Women’s Financial Group for Zions Bank, Chillingworth has already established herself as a leader by finding a way to connect with those people – especially women. She recently ranked 15th on U.S. Banker’s fifth-annual “25 Women to Watch” list, which recognizes “women whose business acumen, professional integrity and personal tenacity are fostering great leadership in financial services and, thereby, strengthening America’s social and economic fabric.”
Chillingworth has proven to be all of those. She came on board with Zions Bank in 1997 to spearhead the Women’s Financial Group, building on the groundwork that was laid by Diana Kirk, vice president and director of private client services for Zions – as well as one of Chillingworth’s banking mentors.
“Lori got the vision that women are the major consumer and understood that she could be a major contributor to the bottom line – a real deal for us,” explains Kirk. “At the same time, she could help the community in finance and in business.”
Chillingworth began her 25 years in the banking business as a drive-through teller while simultaneously juggling the responsibilities of being a single mom – with the resolve that she could achieve anything that she put her mind to.
Although she didn’t pursue a formal college degree, Chillingworth took advantage of all available classes through the banking industry and received a commercial-banking degree through the Utah Bankers Association. Later, in 2002, she graduated from the Pacific Coast Banking School in Seattle, Wash.
A combination of both Chillingworth’s life experiences and academic achievements can be credited for her banking success, she says.
“I consider myself to be very open minded and forward thinking in ways to improve things and ways to help people,” Chillingworth says. “Being a lender helps people to achieve their dreams and goals.” Chillingworth has capitalized on building relationships with coworkers and clients to push the group forward.
Typically, women are more comfortable talking to other women when it comes to money, explains Chillingworth. “Women want to ask questions – want to be taken seriously and the honest truth is that a woman, as a minority, has 100 percent total confidence that she’ll be treated the same [as her male counterpart].”
Recognized by the American Bankers Association for bringing an innovative approach to the women’s market, Chillingworth has presented this new concept for women’s banking at the ABA’s Small Business Lending Conference. Consequently, bankers from around the country frequently contact Zions Bank to learn more about the group, allowing Chillingworth to change old perceptions about banking in the women’s market.