By Jessica Harper
When Arleen Sullivan came to Anchor Bank 13 years ago, she was looking to work for a community bank that had “a positive culture guided by strong core values.”
This is what Sullivan found at Anchor Bank where she now serves as director of community banking. Since that time she has worked toward maintaining that same positive culture and profits.
“My hope was to find a company that rewarded performance and hard work – a place were I could grow in my career and stay for the long-term. This is exactly what I found with Anchor Bank,” Sullivan said.
As director of community banking for the past two years, Sullivan has been responsible for leading and managing Anchor Bank’s personal banking, business banking, small business administration services and residential mortgage services departments. These departments have $850 million in deposits at 17 locations.
“This has been a rewarding challenge for me, and therefore a significant accomplishment, as I have championed changes that have influenced a team of approximately 140 employees,” she said.
The changes Sullivan has implemented have been embraced by employees and led to strong financial results and improvements in employee and customer engagement, Sullivan said.
Sullivan, an Eagan resident, was hired at Anchor Bank in 2003 as the community bank’s commercial banking vice president. Four years later she moved up to commercial banking market president. In 2014 she was hired as director of community banking.
Sullivan has worked in the banking industry for more than two decades.
Prior to joining Anchor Bank, she served as commercial banking vice president for Stillwater National Bank in Oklahoma City and as a commercial banking officer at HSBC in the greater New York City area prior to that.
Sullivan graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in economics.
When she began her career in 1987, there were few women working in the banking industry. However, there were two male business leaders who served as her mentor and advocated for Sullivan as she grew into her profession.
One was Rick Green, former CEO of Stillwater National Bank, and Jeff Hawkins, president of Anchor Bank. Sullivan describes both men as principled business leaders who are committed to driving values-based organizations.
“They are visionary and see business opportunities on every corner. They are committed to customers, dedicated to their families and seem to get younger each year through exercise and healthy living,” she said.
Sullivan’s advice to other businesswomen is to “choose an advisory circle of professionals who are supportive of you while also being committed to providing constructive feedback.”
One of the greatest challenges all banks face, Sullivan said, is to deliver high quality, personal service to customers and operate profitably in an industry that faces intense regulations, competition from non-bank lenders and a sustained low-rate environment.
“Anchor Bank’s solution to these challenges is to find ways to implement cost effective operations and delivery strategies that do not adversely impact our personalized service to customers,” Sullivan said.
Anchor Bank, which is one of the largest family-owned community banks in Minnesota, strives to differentiate itself from its competition by remaining locally-owned, and committed to its customers’ success, Sullivan said.
Being anchored in Dakota County, which is a vibrant, business friendly area, has been a great advantage for the community bank, Sullivan said.
Community engagement is very important to Sullivan.
She serves as a member of CaringBridge’s Advisory Council’s executive team. CaringBridge is an Eagan-based nonprofit social network that enables people to share information during a medical crisis. Sullivan is also a member of the Board of Directors for ProAct, an Eagan-based nonprofit that provides employment and community inclusion opportunities for people with disabilities.
“I am drawn to both these organizations because they support individuals and families who are in need, and they ultimately strengthen our communities,” she said.
- On February 25, 2016