Q and A with Billie Jo Parker

2023-2024 Young Bankers Division Chairman
Client Services Group Area Manager
Pinnacle Financial Partners
Memphis, Tenn.

Billie Jo Parker joined Pinnacle Financial Partners in February of 2020 and serves as area manager for the Client Services Group in Memphis, Tenn. In this role, she oversees the retail banking offices and is responsible for managing the client experience and associate development initiatives for the West Tennessee market.

Parker earned two degrees in Spanish and business administration in international business from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and an MBA from Christian Brothers University. She is currently attending the American Banker Association’s Stonier Graduate School of Banking. Parker married her husband, Brent, in 2006. They live in Arlington, Tenn., with their three children, Anabelle, Caroline, and Graham, and their rescue pup, Rockne.

What inspired you to become involved with the Young Bankers Division, and what motivated you to pursue a leadership role within the organization?
My first interaction with the Young Bankers Division occurred at a leadership luncheon in Memphis in 2008. Ken Plunk, who was then the chairman of my bank’s advisory board, was also a former chairman of the TBA. Mr. Plunk encouraged me to get involved in the Young Bankers Division. I am grateful for his example, and I appreciate the interest he showed in my potential as a young leader. Over the past 15 years, he has consistently asked about my involvement with the TBA and provided support. He was one of the first people to congratulate me upon my installment as chairman of the Young Bankers Division.

In your opinion, what are some of the biggest challenges facing the banking industry today, and how can young bankers help to address these challenges?
One of the biggest challenges facing the banking industry today is identifying and developing the next generation of talent. Our institutions have a substantial segment of associates approaching retirement. As we think about succession planning, I would love to see future leaders mentored and equipped with the skills needed to prepare them for that next step.

I encourage young bankers to be proactive in their professional development. Research to discover opportunities and express your interest in being involved both within your institution and the broader community. Always express gratitude for the investment your leaders are making in you, and communicate the positive impact it has on your development.

What advice would you give to aspiring young bankers who are just starting out in their careers and looking to make a meaningful impact in the industry?
Leadership is not only about having direct reports or overriding authority. It means taking ownership of your role, regardless of your position within the organization. My market president, Phillip May, has always encouraged me to use good judgment and take initiative, and I advise all young bankers to do the same. Don’t just sit on the sidelines, waiting to be asked to contribute.

Strive to understand your role, how it fits into the bigger picture of your organization, your community, and the banking industry.

Remember to stay humble and patient as you navigate your career. Aim to perform the job you aspire to have before you get the title—others will notice your initiative and commitment.

Similarly, what advice would you give senior banking leadership that are looking to engage and retain the rising stars within their organizations?
When leaders are trying to develop and retain top performers in their organizations, it’s vital to ensure these associates feel connected. In our fast-paced, ever-evolving industry, it’s easy to view our work and interactions as merely transactional. However, the leaders I found worth following taught me more than just banking principles. They extended grace when I failed, helping me learn from my mistakes. They emphasized the importance of a work/life balance, allowing me to journey alongside them.

What is some life or career advice that you’ve gotten and still influences you today?
A decade ago, I attended the Young Bankers Leadership Convention in Chattanooga, where I had the opportunity to hear Patti Steele speak on a CEO panel. She urged us to request our leadership teams for the chance to observe meetings and events outside our regular roles within our banks. This could include observing an ALCO committee meeting or the exit interview process after a bank exam.

Influenced by her advice, I took the initiative to observe the exit interview process. Before hearing from Patti, I wasn’t even aware banks conducted exit interviews with regulators. Her encouragement gave me the courage to assert myself within my firm, and I have been seeking such opportunities ever since.

What goals do you have for the Young Bankers Division over your term as Chairman?
My primary goals are to continue promoting professional development, enhance networking opportunities, and increase participation at our events, such as the Leadership Convention and Coffee Breaks. I aim to further build upon our record-breaking attendance. Additionally, I want to encourage more bank involvement during Tennessee’s Financial Literacy Week. This event offers a great opportunity for bankers to connect with their communities and educate consumers about financial success.

Which committees are you interesting in joining?

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