By Romi Carrell Wittman –
Banking on the Future
Romero Balances National Role and Local Needs
Adriana Kong Romero is just a little over a decade into her professional career, but already she’s made a huge impact.
She’s one of the youngest market presidents in the nation for Bank of America and serves as the company’s enterprise leader in Tucson and Southern Arizona. If that wasn’t enough to fill her plate, she works with small and midsize businesses in the region. In addition, she oversees corporate social responsibility initiatives such as philanthropy and employee volunteer efforts.
Born in Tucson and raised in Douglas, Romero attended the University of Arizona, where she received a bachelor of science in finance. She later completed her master of science in organizational management at University of Phoenix.
In high school, Romero worked part time at Chase Bank and, later as an undergrad, as a teller at BA. These two experiences convinced her that she had found her niche. She loved not only the job, but the entire banking industry because it appeals to both her technical side and her desire to help people on an individual level.
“I always liked the business side of it,” she said. “I loved interacting with different people and being able to help them. Each day was different.”
After graduation, she went to work for Bank of America full time and officially began her meteoric rise to the executive level. During her tenure, she’s worked in a variety of leadership roles, including in the Premier Banking division, where she worked in global wealth and investment management.
Despite the corporate responsibilities that sometimes require her focus at national levels, Romero maintains a steadfast focus on the needs of the local community. To that end, she works closely with local business clients to ensure their needs are being met. On the philanthropic front, she spearheads a huge community giving and volunteer services effort.
In 2014, BA’s Charitable Foundation provided nearly $310,000 in grants and matching gifts to local nonprofits to address critical needs, with Primavera Foundation and Junior Achievement among the recipients. In addition, local BA employees contributed 3,612 volunteer hours in 2014 to service projects.
Romero and Bank of America are also advocates for military service members and veterans, providing assistance funds, financial literacy education, and job placement services. BA is an engaged supporter of the Wounded Warrior program, and actively recruits veterans for positions at all levels of the organization, offering them specialized training programs to ensure their success.
The bank also has actively supported the Feeding America program, with the company providing a two-for-one match for donations made during the fall campaign. In addition, BA works with Habitat for Humanity and United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona to provide additional funding to critical services. Romero gives her personal time and resources to serve on United Way’s board of directors.
“I want to ensure we’re a good corporate citizen,” she said. “Volunteerism is in our DNA.”
Romero would like to extend this concept of philanthropy and giving back to shaping future generations. “I’ve had great mentors,” she said. “As a Hispanic female, I hope to be a leader and mentor to future up-and-comers.”
Looking down the road at the financial services industry, Romero said technology will continue to influence the way we do our banking, and with the constant evolution of mobile technologies, it may morph in ways we can’t imagine today.
“Think of the ATM and when those came out,” she said. “It took a while for them to be adopted because they were so new.
But mobile technology has been adopted much faster because phones are an extension of us.” Millennials, she added, will be a big part of that shift. “They don’t write checks,” she said.
Even though traditional brick-and- mortar banking as we’ve known it is going away, people still want a local bank, a place – and people – they know they can rely on.
“Technology continues to advance. You can be anywhere [and] do your banking,” Romero said. “But we will protect them as they do business around the world.”
As for her own future, Romero is looking forward to it. “I followed my passion and it led me to where I am. I truly believe in what the company stands for – making financial lives better. That’s what it’s about.”