Q&A with Jan Schramm

By David Blanchette         

Jan Schramm is the senior vice president for trust management services at Hickory Point Bank & Trust, the same company where she began her banking career after graduating from Bradley University with a degree in business administration and management.

In September, Schramm received the 2022 President’s Award from the Illinois Bankers Association, which is presented annually to an individual who has been a champion for women in the banking industry. Schramm is active in the Springfield community, currently serving as the chair of the board for Girl Scouts of Central Illinois and as a board member for the Central Illinois Foodbank. She also volunteers with Illinois Women in Leadership, the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, the King’s Daughters Organization and many other local groups.

She and her husband, Rick, have two adult daughters, Kristen and Courtney, and one granddaughter.

How did you start your banking career? It’s kind of funny, but my first job out of college was at the Forsyth branch of Hickory Point Bank & Trust in Decatur. My husband worked for Production Credit Association and we had moved to Decatur.

Then we moved to St. Louis and I worked for Citibank for two-and-a-half years – not affiliated with Citicorp – then I actually went to work for Citicorp and traveled for them quite a bit. We moved back to Springfield in 1987, and I started back in banking in 1994. It’s all been community banks since then.

How has the local banking industry changed during your career? During college I worked summers as a teller for what was then Capitol Bank at their drive-up facility at Fourth Street and South Grand Avenue.

Things were on microfiche at the time, people had to come to the bank to deposit checks and get cash. It was the beginning of the Easy Answer Card; it was really just an ATM card and not even a debit card yet, and everybody was still writing checks.

We used to look up manual signatures. For a while I was in a customer service area, and we had to actually count the checks and stuff those in with the statements. Now people don’t get their checks back anymore.

A lot of the changes have benefited banking and benefited the client. The processes that are in place make it easier for everybody.

What do you most like about your banking career? I like working and dealing with people. I like helping people with their finances.

Right now I sell treasury management services, which is corporate, online banking. Every time we get a new client, it’s like putting a puzzle together to figure out the best way to set them up at Hickory Point Bank & Trust. I enjoy that, because a lot of times when you are working with new clients and you are showing them the different things that are possible, it’s like a light bulb goes off. It’s exciting to see all of that happen and make a client very happy.

What has your affiliation with the Illinois Bankers Association meant to you? I started with the Illinois Bankers Association when I was with Illinois National Bank in 2005. They helped advance my career with different educational programs. I have gotten to do different leadership roles at the association that have been very beneficial. Their staff knowledge has really improved my ability to do my job.

The President’s Award means a lot to me, especially because of what the award stands for. I’ve always strived to mentor the other women in banking that I’m associated with either here at the bank, or outside of the bank.

I really don’t like being in the spotlight. I am very honored by the awards I have received, but that is not why I do the things that I do.

How far have women progressed in the banking industry during the past several decades? One of my first woman bosses was firm but fair. One thing that she wanted to impart on me was the need to always invest in people. Her leadership and problem-solving skills showed me the value of working together, and it provided me a pathway for success.

She always said, “You don’t need to give a hand out, but a hand up,” to the next generation that is coming up in this career field. I think that has been kind of my guiding light through my career.

There have been definite strides with women in managerial and higher-ranking roles. There’s still a ways to go, but I believe we are well-positioned now to really excel.

What advice would you give to young people entering the workforce? There’s a quote I like by Melody Beattie: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

I think people entering the workforce need to learn from the individuals that are currently there. But I also think that people in my generation need to reach out to the new people that are coming in to take them under our wing. There are a lot of things that the baby boomers can learn from the new generation, and the new generation can learn a lot from us.

You started your career at Hickory Point Bank & Trust and you’ve returned there for this latest chapter in your professional life. How does that make you feel? It is kind of funny that I started here, and now I’m here again at this point in my career. The president that I worked for at Hickory Point Bank the first time, Dean Ortinau, reached out to me when it was announced that I was coming back in 2013. He sent me a note saying, “I always knew that you would come back to your senses and return to Hickory Point.”

Hickory Point Bank has been very supportive of the different activities that I’m involved in. The bank’s support has let me do that, and let me grow and shine. It has also helped me to mentor more people than I ever thought I would be able to touch.

You and your husband, Rick, have two daughters, one with a doctorate in forensic psychology and the other an assistant professor with a doctorate in tax accounting. How did you encourage both daughters to succeed? My husband and I both instilled in the girls not to go to college to just get a degree, but to get a license. Something that they can hang their own shingle on so that they have the independence to do what they want to do and not be tied to a specific business or organization. They are both excelling at what they do, and to me as a parent, that’s very rewarding.