A conversation with Elizabeth Blose

04/28/2013 7:30 AM

08/08/2014 10:16 AM

Elizabeth Blose, Intrust Bank’s new chief financial officer, has carved out a finance career that has spanned trains, planes and banking.

Prior to taking her first job at Intrust five years ago, as director of finance and business strategy, she had built a finance career working on the East and West coasts for a variety of large companies including General Electric, Honeywell and Wells Fargo.

A graduate of Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., with bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering and economics, Blose, 52, moved to Wichita in 2009 with her husband, Jeff, who works in supply chain management at Beechcraft Corp.

Her first job in Wichita was at Wells Fargo, as a sales manager. She had worked for the company before moving here from Pittsburgh, where she was born and had moved back to for her husband’s job.

Shortly after coming to Wichita, she said, a friend sent her resume to Intrust. That’s where she met Jay Smith, Intrust’s president and chief operating officer, who hired her.

“I just knew when I first came in to meet with Jay that this is where I want to be,” Blose said.

Besides overseeing the bank’s financial operations, she continues to lead the bank’s business strategy, which includes its banking footprint, branch performance and new product development.

She has a daughter who is graduating in two weeks from Texas Christian University and a son who is a freshman at the University of Kansas.

Why did you enroll in college to be a civil engineer?

I wanted to build bridges all over the world.

But in addition to civil engineering, you also graduated with a degree in economics?

I’m in fluid dynamics (class). Suddenly I was able to put two and two together (and realized), “OK, I’m going to be designing sewer systems for municipal governments.” (I said to myself,) “Elizabeth, I don’t think this is for you.” I switched over, then, at the end of my sophomore year … and I just had to take economics classes pretty much for the next two years.

Your first job out of college was at General Electric?

I was accepted into GE’s financial management program.. They put me in Erie, Pa. That’s where they make locomotives. There were about 11,000 people at the facility.

So was this like a corporate management training program for finance professionals?

Yes. It’s very structured. It’s basically a two-year program. You do six-month rotations in four key areas of the finance and accounting field. They also have you go to classes at night.

And you said GE used this as a way to see if you were going to work out as an employee?

They give you enough testing so they have a good assessment of how you’re doing. I think they hired eight of us and two of us graduated.

How long were you with – and in what areas did you work at – Honeywell?

I was with Honeywell for about 15 years. They moved us to a couple of different locations, from business to business. I was in their computer business, went into industrial automation and controls and then was at corporate headquarters, and that was in Minneapolis, Minn. And then I moved back to Arizona (in a Honeywell division responsible for aircraft cockpit equipment). Honeywell was great to us.

Given the variety of industries you’ve worked in, do you think that gives you an advantage over other bank CFOs who have only worked in banking?

I don’t know if it gives me an advantage necessarily, but I do think I have a broader foundation that just enables you to discern things from a different perspective.

What do you consider the defining moments in your career?

I think this would be one of them. I think just to have been given this opportunity to be the CFO of a community bank, in particular this community bank. It’s just such a well-run organization and the bank itself is so healthy … to me it’s going to be really fun and interesting to see the industry coming out of recession. I guess my other defining moment is being a controller for a major division of Honeywell (Aerospace) and being the mother of two young children and traveling. The Allied Signal merger (with Honeywell), that was probably a defining moment. It (the merger planning) was like this three- to four-week process where we were in this summit at a hotel deciding who we were going to be, what we were going to be, what was the best product going forward … it was very fascinating to go through that.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I was accepted into the (2013) Boston Marathon but I didn’t go because I had a stress fracture. This would have been my first Boston (Marathon). This is what you really dream of doing. My time (based on her past times in qualifying marathons) would have probably been within five minutes of when the bomb was detonated. And my family would have been there (at the finish line).

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