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Employee Stories: Kristin Bartels

July 08, 2024

Kristin’s Perspective - Career Growth and Mentorship

Kristin Bartels is the Digital Banking & Payment Operations Manager at Heartland Bank and Trust Company. Kristin’s story with Heartland Bank began in 2018 when she started as a Bookkeeping Supervisor in the Accounting Department. Since then, Kristin transitioned into Payment Operations and has had an incredible journey building her career in the banking industry.

Kristin Bartels Headshot

About Kristin

Kristin is incredibly fortunate to have her husband, James, and 14-year-old son, Lucas, as her support system. Kristin said of her family, “They have always encouraged and supported me and have made sacrifices when I’ve worked long hours.” Outside of work, Kristin loves watching Lucas play baseball and run track and is very excited to watch him play high school football this fall.

Kristin’s coworkers have positive things to say about her. She is known as someone who cares about her fellow employees, leads by example, and inspires others to be the best they can be. Her employees appreciate the support they receive from Kristin and the focus she places on career development and learning.

Kristin’s Story

My entire career has been in banking, and it began after I graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University. I had recently moved to Florida and my roommate at the time worked as a teller at a local community bank and recommended me for an open position. I loved it!

After moving back to central Illinois, I continued to develop my knowledge and skills by working for a small community bank in Peoria. I held several roles throughout my 15 years there, which included Retail Branch Manager, Electronic Banking Manager, BSA and Fraud Officer, and Retail Operations Manager. When I started out, I never would have imagined that banking would become my career, but it has been one of the most rewarding journeys of my life. The customers I’ve met and co-workers I’ve had along the way have helped mold me into the manager, and more importantly, the person, that I am today.

Finding A Career Path

In 2018, my employer at the time was acquired. I wanted to have better work-life balance, especially after commuting for many years. I decided to look for a bank closer to home. Heartland Bank had a reputation of contributing significantly to the communities it served, which is very important to me. I knew Heartland Bank would be a great fit!

Professional Growth

I joined Heartland Bank as the Bookkeeping Supervisor in the Accounting Department.

Shortly after getting settled, I was approached about the possibilities of developing a Payment Operations Department to consolidate the oversight of ACH, Check, and Wire processing. My responsibilities continued to grow when I began overseeing the Digital Banking team in the fall of 2020.

In my current role, I oversee operations for Item & Wire Processing, Payment Operations, Digital Banking Support, and Treasury Management Support. These departments have been tasked with several challenging and exciting projects over the last few years, and the teams I get to work on have truly done an amazing job. My coworkers are some of the most talented, dedicated, and positive people I know!

Support from Managers

Words cannot adequately express how significant the level of support, encouragement, and direction I’ve received from my manager, Diane Lanier, Chief Retail Officer, as well as everyone on the Executive Management Team.

I’ve heard it said that “True leaders don’t just create followers, they create more leaders.” I believe that the Executive Management of Heartland Bank are the epitome of excellence, and their influence in all areas has made me a better leader for all employees in my departments.

Heartland Bank’s Culture

What I love most about Heartland Bank is that there are opportunities for growth and amazing leaders for our employees.

During the day, I work with many different departments, and I continuously see the talent and knowledge of individuals that serve as mentors and coworkers to so many. I’m truly humbled and honored to be surrounded by a team of ethical professionals and work for a financial institution that is deeply rooted in community values.

I’ve had many people over the years express their gratitude that the employees in my departments are always kind, knowledgeable, and approachable when a customer issue or question arises. While this is absolutely expected in my eyes, it is also very rewarding to hear the positive impact my teams make in the daily lives of our customers and frontline staff. Spreading kindness and working as a team to resolve issues is one of my highest priorities. It means the world to me when I receive feedback that my departments excel in these areas.

Advice from Kristin

I advise those looking for advancement opportunities at the Bank to continuously seek additional tasks and training. Some tactics you might try are to look for ways to assist your coworkers when your tasks are complete, ask to be more involved on a department or group project, and most importantly, have a positive approach towards your work and especially towards those around you. These actions do not go unnoticed and can make or break a team’s culture.