Alumni Check-In: Natalie Bolin (2013)

As the Ottumwa Leadership Academy welcomes its 10th class of leaders, we’re checking back in with alumni from the first 9 classes to see where they are now. Today, we’re catching up with Natalie Bolin, a graduate of the inaugural class of the Ottumwa Leadership Academy in 2013.

Ottumwa Leadership Academy: Where are you now? How has your career changed since you were a participant in the Academy?

Natalie: December will be my 10-year anniversary with South Ottumwa Savings Bank; over the past ten years we have been through 3 mergers/acquisitions and several system conversions and have increased our asset size to more than $575 million.  Being over the $500 million mark in community banking is a big step and significantly increases our regulatory and financial reporting requirements.  I currently fill the roles of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Senior Vice President of Operations.  Within these roles, I oversee financial and regulatory reporting, accounting, compliance, internal audit, information technology, bank operations, facilities, risk management and co-manage a $200 million security portfolio.  I love the variety that comes with working for a small business – so many opportunities to learn and adapt.

Ottumwa Leadership Academy: How do you find yourself still using skills or things you learned in the Academy?

Natalie: The Leadership Academy has helped me to open up. I am a backroom person. I love to get lost in an analysis, report, theory, etc.  That energizes me.  I used to find going to community events, volunteering, and networking to be terrifying. O.L.A. forced me to do those things and now I really like them; I still get nervous sometimes, but I know I will be ok, there will be someone to talk to.  It takes time to build a network; mine is still very small in comparison to a lot of people’s but I value the connections I’ve made the last ten years.  O.L.A. has helped me to look at things from new perspectives – my home base is from an analytical lens – does it make sense from a dollars and cents perspective.  My work with Legacy and O.L.A. has helped me to think of things from a broader community perspective. 

Ottumwa Leadership Academy: What other opportunities have you had to serve as a leader since graduating?

Natalie: I joined the Legacy Foundation Board of Directors. As part of that, the finance and investment committee work is more in line with my areas of expertise. However, when I first joined the board I was asked to serve on the Bright Ideas grant committee for a year or two.  This helped me to see the WHY behind Legacy; our foundation adds so much more to our community than just dollars.  I’m so proud of all the work our staff and board do to support so many of our community partners.  I’m so excited about our upcoming communication initiative so that more people in our community will know what’s going on with the foundation. 

Deciding how to balance family, career, community, health, and faith isn’t easy and it is constantly shifting.  Right now, I am open to joining one more organization but haven’t found the right fit.  I want to make sure it’s a cause I’m committed to – I want to make an impact.  On the personal side my husband and I are starting our second year of leading our middle school youth group.  It is SO out of my comfort zone but it’s fun and offers so many opportunities to grow as a leader.  The hardest part for me is the games and being fun. Last week I had the frosting side of an Oreo cookie stuck to my forehead and had to move it to my mouth without my hands. I was so not successful, but it entertains the kids and helps me to not take myself so seriously.  I also want to leave space for volunteering at events for my kids school activities. 

Ottumwa Leadership Academy: What words of advice do you have for this year’s class?

Natalie: Do all the things and stay involved after graduation through the Alumni Association.  At this point I struggle to remember who I went through academy with and who I’ve connected with through the alumni association.  The network you grow will be invaluable – it’s amazing how easy it is to get things done when you have a large group of highly skilled alumni to reach out to.  Oh, and you will survive graduation – projects can get overwhelming and public speaking is scary for a lot of us – but reach out and ask for support when you need it you have 100+ people who have been there and are willing to help any way they can.