Shannon Coles, current Vice President of Strategic Business Development at TIAA Bank, maximized her collegiate experience and has translated that experience into career success. Shannon leveraged her positive student experience into a clear career pathway. She’s worked for TIAA Bank in various roles for over 12 years. In addition, Shannon pursued her professional education by attending the CBA Executive Banking School.
A graduate of the University of North Florida in 2007, Shannon initially became interested in the industry after taking some accounting classes. Seeking the ability to infuse more creativity into her studies, she took a financial management class. She enjoyed it immensely, as it permitted application of rules and practices in different ways. Financial management presented flexibility within a specific framework — something that meshed naturally with her personality.
Shannon’s interest and aptitude were further cultivated through involvement in the Osprey Financial Group, a student managed investment fund responsible for a $500,000 endowment. Only 10-15 total graduate and undergraduate students are accepted into this program each year. Shannon was accepted after completing a competitive application and interview process.
The group involved competitions in which the team completed and presented projects to industry professionals and leaders. This work, in addition to her course load, taught Shannon valuable skills in written and oral communication, teamwork, accountability and conflict resolution. This experience provided real skills and resulted in heightened confidence and empowerment.
Shannon also participated in the Finance & Investment Society, as well as Students in Free Enterprise, additional activities that supplemented classroom learning and made her a more valuable hire. Her advice to others seeking this career pathway is to use experiences to “stretch and expand your skill set, as it will open other doors. Take opportunities to expand your network with professors and industry professionals.”
Ultimately, Shannon is an example of how an individual can successfully select a career pathway, pursue education in that pathway, and obtain gainful, fulfilling employment — all right here in the Northeast Florida region.