Meet Rachael Sampson, Incoming Director of Key4Women®
Rachael Sampson has been named the Director of Key4Women, replacing Barbara Smith, who formerly led the Key4Women team and grew the platform to what it is today.
Sampson, in her 15-year tenure at KeyBank, has held several roles. Her most recent was Commercial Relationship Manager in Cincinnati, Ohio. There she was successful in developing deep relationships with Key’s Commercial clients and delivering personalized industry expertise and solutions.
Colleen Dugarte, senior initiative development manager, Key4Women, connected with Sampson recently to learn more about the talents and passion she brings to Key4Women members as they navigate the complexities of business and ownership.
- Sampson’s career journey, like most, was not linear.
- She has deep roots and a passion for community service and entrepreneurship.
- She will work to establish a network of female and male allies to accelerate business growth and carry it forward.
Dugarte: Welcome to Key4Women, Rachael! We are so excited to have you on board. Can you tell us a bit about the career journey that led you to this new role?
Sampson: How quickly nearly 20 years have gone by! Like many others, my journey has not been linear – more like a zigzag throughout the state of Ohio. As a discipline, I've always loved math, so I was initially interested in a career in education. I ultimately decided to take a role with a local bank in Cincinnati, Ohio, as an associate in loan operations.
As my career began to grow, so did my family! To be closer to my family, my husband and I decided to move to my hometown, Cleveland, Ohio. It was at that time, 15 years ago, that I joined Key. For several years I managed different teams within the commercial loan operations area. Within our operations, I had the opportunity to participate in enterprise-wide projects such as new product rollouts, system implementations, and bank acquisitions.
An opportunity arose to move back to Cincinnati, Ohio, just as my family continued to grow. When I think about it now, many perceived my move as a risk to my career – moving farther away from Key headquarters. However, sometimes rewards are worth the risks we take. My new position in Cincinnati broadened my perspective on banking, brought me closer to clients, and allowed me to provide solutions to their issues, which is one of my passions.
Since then, I have held various roles with Key ranging from servicing and compliance to credit and ultimately managing relationships. I am so thankful I decided to make the career move because I love managing and building relationships. Having client contact allowed me to develop trusting relationships, identify clients' needs, and lead a team of experts who can deliver tailored advice and solutions to meet their changing needs.
Now, I am so humbled to be named director of Key4Women and work on behalf of women in business. It is an exciting opportunity, and I look forward to the challenge of bringing these skills and a problem-solving mindset to female business owners and leaders.
Dugarte: You have certainly packed a lot into a 20-year career. Can you share with us some lessons learned along the way?
Sampson: I learned that everyone's path to their definition of success is unique. It is critical that you stay true to who you are and follow your passion with grit and tenacity.
Growing up as a pastor's daughter, helping those in need has always been a core value. My parents were also fortunate to be small business owners, which gave me, at an early age, the firsthand experience of running a business and the challenges that all too often come with it, especially for women. That makes Director of Key4Women a perfect fit.
Another learning that I have embraced is that we, as female leaders, must "carry as we climb," meaning we need to look out not only for ourselves but also for others coming after us.
That is why the Key4Women platform is so important. Key4Women provides tools, resources, and access to connections for women to help them "climb." It is energizing and transformative work that I am deeply passionate about. Personally, I don't believe in the glass ceiling. I fully believe that if we work hard, seek continual learning and mentoring opportunities, and carry others with us, we can do anything.
Finally, although it feels counterintuitive, female leaders must ask for and accept help when needed. When I started as a Relationship Manager in Cincinnati, I was fortunate to have seasoned, generous colleagues step in to help me navigate my new role. These colleagues were male allies who showed me the ropes, and I showed appreciation by taking their advice and learning quickly. If I had rejected their guidance, I might not have achieved the same level of success, or it may have taken exponentially longer.
Dugarte: Do you have any initial thoughts as you begin your leadership of the Key4Women program?
Sampson: I have to say, I am impressed with our team of more than 2,000 Key4Women Certified Advisors across Key's footprint and their passion for helping women in business. We are gathering critical information from our internal partners, and most importantly, from our Key4Women members. Last year, we all experienced an unprecedented amount of change that required many of us to pivot, retool, and re-evaluate how and where we do business. Therefore, it's imperative that our programming evolve to provide the advice, resources, and support our members have come to expect.
We are launching website improvements to make our Key4Women content for learning and connecting more user friendly. And based on positive feedback on our advice segments in 2020, we plan to add more business and professional development content. Of course, we will continue to bring tailored programming on a national and local market chapter level. We will also connect closely with Key's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts, which run wide and deep throughout our organization. We are encouraged at Key to go out into our communities to make a difference, and we will most definitely contribute to those efforts in 2021.
As you can see, I believe in developing meaningful relationships, helping in our communities, and building a close network of allies. We are excited as a team to make Key4Women stronger and more relevant than ever as we move into a new year of programming. I can't think of a better place to be!
About Rachael Sampson
Rachael Sampson works from Cincinnati, Ohio. She resides with her husband and two children and is a volunteer with various nonprofit organizations.