Rolling Out

Sherry Kinard remains authentic through leadership

Courtesy of Sherry Kinard
Courtesy of Sherry Kinard

Sherry Kinard is senior vice president in the commercial banking division at The Brand Banking Company. Since 1999, she has steadily climbed her way to the top of the corporate ladder. Kinard’s career first began at Regions Bank in the home equity department. Then she became a loan processor, a portfolio manager and eventually moved on to business development.

For the last ten years, Kinard, a graduate of Clark Atlanta University with a bachelor’s in history, has rose in the ranks in The Brand Bank’s GGL division — one of the top SBA lenders in Georgia. In addition to her current role, the South Carolina native has shared her expertise with DEBCO, a non-profit organization, the Small Lender Committee for the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders and even InvestAtlanta.

Kinard attributes her success to her ability to remain authentic in leadership and the great support she receives from her son, parents, husband and siblings.

Here’s a look at how she does it.

As a Black woman, what do you consider your superpower to be?
My superpower is the ability to lead and nurture. Throughout history, Black women have always been able to transition between the role of leader and nurturer.

What key skills or qualities make you unique as an African American female leader?
My key skill or quality would be being authentic. Being authentic is hard for some, as we have to be careful and not be too loud or too passive. I found my authentic self early in life, and I credit that to growing up with 13 aunts and several older cousins, all with very strong personalities.

What thoughtful or encouraging piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Trust your gut; it has never let you down.

Why is it important for women of color to lead or work in leadership roles and decision-making capacities?
We bring a different dynamic, one that comes from years of overcoming obstacles. Being in a leadership role shows others what is possible and exposes them to industries and careers that they may not see every day.

If you could thank any Black woman history maker for her contributions to society, who would it be and why?
Not including family, it would be my shero Harriett (Araminta Ross) Tubman. She bucked the system, made her own rules. She was brave, smart, authentic, determined, and godly. She was the ultimate leader and nurturer. She also proved that common sense is just as valuable as book smarts.

Why is it important for seasoned and experienced Black women to reach back and help younger women of color?

We have to reach back, not out of guilt but to sustain the community, all communities. One of my favorite quotes: “When you educate a man, you educate a man. When you educate a woman, you educate a generation.” We have to make up for the generations lost to being enslaved.

How do you feel about the hashtag #CollaborationOverCompetition?
I agree 100 percent with the hashtag because when I win, we all win. Maya Angelou said, “When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” That is one of my favorite quotes and I live it daily. We have to share our knowledge.

What qualities or values do you deem indispensable in your business partners or collaborators?
For me, integrity is indispensable. A person with no integrity will do anything and I need to know that my friends, business partners, and collaborators have limits.

What are your thoughts on taking risks? Making mistakes?
Getting out of bed is taking a risk. If you don’t take risks, you will never grow into the person you are intended to be. Mistakes are proof that I tried and my goal is to always learn from my mistakes. Mistakes make you stronger and wiser.

What are three success habits you implement into your daily routine to maintain your success, sanity, peace of mind, etc.?
My daily habits consist of the following: 1. Give thanks 2. Take a minute for me 3. Help someone 4. Learn something.

As a successful woman in business, what is your greatest or proudest achievement?
Helping others. No award comes close to the feeling you get when you help someone reach a goal or solve a problem.

Who is your biggest inspiration? Why?
My parents. They have always been my safety net, but at the same time gave me enough space to be an individual. They let me make mistakes and still loved me unconditionally. My dad often says, “I wanted to make sure y’all had it better than me.” He did and that is my goal for my son.

If you could have any person in the world become your mentor, who would you choose and why?
Ms. Oprah Winfrey. I’ve admired Oprah since 1986 and she has been such an inspiration. She is authentic and she is not ashamed of her flaws; she’s “flawsome.” She’s a humanitarian, a self-starter, a Southerner and I’ve never heard anyone question her integrity. I watched her show daily and learned so much from her and her guests. I start a lot of sentences with “Oprah talked about that on her show” or “Oprah said.”

I’ve never met her, but she’s had such an impact on my life.

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