To Leslie Andersen, there is not much difference between serving major corporations and small businesses.
"They have a lot of the same concerns, they want a relationship with their bank," Andersen says. "For everything else, it is just about moving the decimal point."
Andersen moved the figurative decimal point in 1992 when she gave up an $85 million portfolio in the corporate lending division at NationsBank in Norfolk, Va., and headed home to Nebraska to join the then-$15 million-asset Bank ofBennington, which was founded by her grandfather and great-grandfather.
Her father, Jerry Roe, who serves as the bank's chairman, tried to talk her out of it.
"He told me he didn't want me to feel obligated to do it. I had a great job," Andersen says. "But I wanted to be in overall bank management and I always wanted to be a part of the family bank."
Andersen started as a senior vice president and senior lender and ascended to the chief executivejob in 1993.
She describes her leadership style with the twodozen people who work at the now $60 million-asset bank as "not autocratic."
"My team knows that if they make a call, I am not going to second-guess their decision," Andersen says.
That style proved useful last year when Andersen was diagnosed with breast cancer. She didn't miss any work, but says having a strong team made it easier forher on the days when she wasn't feeling well.
"Maybe I wasn't at 100 percent, but I was here and I was fighting," Andersen says. "You want people you can count on and my team really stepped it up."
Andersen was declared cancer free in October 2009. She is active the industry as the vice chairman for the American Bankers Association's Government Relations Council and is chairman of Alegent Health System, which operates hospitals in several states.