Jane Simon, State Bank of Cross Plains

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Jane Simon, vice president–private banking, State Bank of Cross Plains.
Pow Jane Simon Headsot

What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

The most rewarding part of my job is really getting to know my clients and their families. Since a big part of what I do is anticipating potential issues and helping clients through big transitions and life changes, the better I know them, the better I can serve them. That’s the real joy of my work. That said, the most challenging part of my job recently has been the lack of face-to-face contact during COVID. I can still serve clients effectively, but I really miss the relationships.

Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

Ever since I was a kid, I have admired track star Florence Griffith Joyner. Flo-Jo was not only an incredible athlete, but she was also always true to herself and never tried to hide her flamboyant style or personality. Her example showed me that it’s OK to be your authentic self. You don’t have to pretend to fit in or make yourself smaller. In fact, pretending to be something or someone you’re not is exhausting and can detract from your real talent by focusing too much energy on things that don’t matter. I learned that the best way to connect with people — in life or in business — is to work hard and just be myself. She was a great role model for excellence and authenticity.

What has been the high point of your career so far?

I always feel like the pinnacle of a person’s career should be ahead of them — the best is yet to come! Everything I do now is simply a step in my total journey. So far, the high point has been my current position working for State Bank of Cross Plains (SBCP), leading the Private Banking division. Working for a community bank is so refreshing! Everyone here is so focused on doing what is best for our community as a whole — and for our customers in particular. Another part of working at SBCP that is so fulfilling has been co-hosting the Wealthways podcast. I have spent time working my way through the ranks, so I embraced the opportunity to empower other women as they navigate whatever career path they are traveling. I have enjoyed shining the spotlight on local women leaders.

Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Be a dentist! Just kidding. My real answer is to trust your instincts! My grandparents were farmers with a strong Norwegian work ethic. I want everything I do to make them proud. I’m very ambitious and made a lot of forward movement before having my first child. Then I remembered how fun it was to grow up in a big family. I wanted that kind of life for my kids too. It was a difficult decision, but I took a few years off after my third child was born. I remember a female colleague coming to say goodbye as I packed up my office. She said, “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t come back to work when you’re ready. There is always a place for you.” That has been an important reminder that the path to success isn’t a straight line. I’m so glad I listened to my gut and took the time to enjoy my family. And I’m also glad that I came back to work when the time was right. I appreciate my work so much more than before. Trusting my inner voice at every stage has made my life so much more fulfilling.

What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?

I am from the Minneapolis area, so I’m used to a big city. However, I think of Madison, and Dane County as a whole, as a little big town. My husband and I have five children, and there is so much to do here for families, like museums, the zoo, and even Broadway shows. The lakes are beautiful, and we can take a short drive to go skiing. There’s a great food culture and so many cool things about living here that are very unique for the size of the city. My husband’s extended family lives in the Madison area, and it has been so fun to experience all these things as a family.

Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?

I consider myself an artist. Art was my first major before switching to business, and I belong to the National Art Honor Society. Instead of scrolling my phone, I do sketches. I don’t have a ton of paintings, but I like to use acrylics to paint because it’s easier to clean up than oils. Mostly, I enjoy creating something for myself, so I don’t display or share my work much. And with five kids between the ages of 2–11, I tend to only have enough time to work on sketches these days.

What are your guilty pleasures?

I have two! Reading books and novels is a nice escape. I enjoy mysteries, suspense, and crime dramas. The other thing I like to indulge in is watching trashy reality TV. Pretty much anything on Bravo will do the trick. I put so much energy into my job and my home life that sometimes it’s nice to do something that requires absolutely zero brain power!

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