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Employee Stories: Tera Arendell

January 24, 2023

Tera's Perspective – Be an Advocate

Tera Arendell is a Customer Experience Lead in our Marketing department at Heartland Bank and Trust Company. Tera’s story with Heartland Bank started in 2015 when she started her career as a Senior Graphic Designer. Since then, Tera has had an incredible journey in building her career in Marketing. Tera’s passion to be an advocate, not only for herself, but for everyone around her is what makes her a standout employee at Heartland Bank.

Tera High Res copy edits

About Tera

Those who know Tera know that she is creative and has a keen attention to detail and focus on top quality results. At the same time, she is a strategic thinker and uses that approach to question current methods and approaches and recommend new ones to move the bank forward.

Outside of work, she enjoys travel, hiking, and a good book over a warm cup of coffee. She loves spending time outdoors with her husband, kids, and dog. They really enjoy taking their camper on the road and exploring our National Parks – and hope to see as many as they can!

Tera's Story

After completing an internship at a graphic design studio and graduating with a degree in Visual Communications in 2010, I worked at a digital printing company as a Production Designer, Department Coordinator, and then Project Manager for large format graphic installations. I also pursued freelance opportunities developing brochures, logos, booklets, etc. for a variety of clients. After living in Chicago for 10+ years, my husband (then fiancé) and I decided we wanted to relocate back to our hometown of Bloomington-Normal where we could be closer to family.

Finding Your Career Path

After announcing our plan to relocate back to the Bloomington area, I was referred to the open Senior Graphic Designer position by someone I knew who worked at Heartland. After several conversations with that person about the company and its culture, I thought it sounded like a great fit and decided to apply. And I’m so glad I did.

My education and experience were in graphic design and print production – and I had previously enjoyed working for another growing, family-owned business – so this opportunity felt meant to be and at the exact right time.

Professional Growth

At Heartland Bank, I have had the privilege of working with so many wonderful people and many strong leaders who have encouraged my development and mentored me along the way. They’ve pushed me out of my comfort zone just enough to help me flourish. I have also been encouraged to develop skills in many other ways including LinkedIn learning as well as in-person and virtual conferences.

Support from Managers

I have had many open conversations with my managers about where I wanted to develop and the type of work I enjoyed doing. Over time, they were able to create a position for me that aligned with the needs of the bank, but also allowed me to continue developing in Customer Experience design, which was an area of interest to me that I feel very passionately about.

Heartland Bank's Culture

In my experience, Heartland Bank is made up of passionate people who truly care about each other and about the customer. I am proud to work for a company that lives up to its promise of being a true community bank. Every day our people serve the communities that we all are a part of in a variety of ways – and are encouraged to do so by the bank.

Advice from Tera

First, be an advocate for the customer. This might sound like it has nothing do with personal development, but the customer's overall satisfaction directly correlates with the lifetime value of a customer. Advocating for ideas that enhance the customer’s experience are ones that provide value for the bank – and in return, you. Additionally, this puts empathy at the heart of everything you do, which gives greater meaning to your work.

Second, be an advocate for yourself. Don’t be afraid to share your unique insights and your ideas. And be transparent during the review process and 1:1’s about your goals and your desired career path.

Finally, be an advocate for each other – celebrate your co-workers’ successes, be kind and courteous, and listen to each other people’s perspectives! Developing strong relationships with your peers and leaders is a wonderful way to learn and grow.