Melissa Torres, State Bank of Cross Plains

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Melissa Torres, vice president – credit risk management, State Bank of Cross Plains.

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

In my job, most of what I do is of an audit function, and generally in audit if you do everything right, you do not hear from my group. The most challenging is providing the feedback when an audit is not right and doing so in a manner that is not perceived as negative. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is working with customers who are struggling with financial concerns and walking through their difficulties with them so they can succeed and have financial success.

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

This will sound cliché, but I have always looked up to the mentors and supervisors I have worked with throughout my career. I have had some really great supporters who have led me down the right paths at the right times in my life to get me where I am today. They have provided me with the knowledge and experience I have needed at the right time to pursue my goals.

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

After coming to work with State Bank of Cross Plains, I have been fortunate to join the RMA (Risk Management Association) Wisconsin Chapter. After joining this organization, which is managed locally by volunteers, I was nominated as president of the Wisconsin chapter. Since working in this capacity, I have helped to lead our chapter to become one of the strongest in the country — earning platinum status three out of the last four years. This is not only the highest award level, but has provided me the opportunity to travel throughout the country supporting this wonderful organization, promoting the banking industry and networking with other professionals.

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

Don’t rush yourself. Success and respect in any position comes with time and experience. Jumping from job to job may or may not be the right thing for you; for me, I do not believe in job-hopping. It is difficult to fully learn when you are often in transition mode. I would also tell myself to stay ambitious — always look for ways to continue learning and gain new experiences.

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

Growing up in the western suburbs of Chicago, I hated driving through the traffic just to run errands. Dane County offers the same luxuries and more, without the hustle and bustle of a larger city.

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

I really don’t have any secret talents or abilities. Most people don’t know that I like to play piano and recently got one to be able to play again. I also like to cross-stitch, as well as water-ski — I have been working the last couple of summers to get back into the latter to prove to my kids that even an “old” lady can do it!

What are your guilty pleasures?

One thing I love to do is go see a movie at the theatre, but I’m usually too cheap to go. So when I do go, it’s a treat. I love just sitting there and putting my mind in to the plot of the movie with a big bucket of popcorn, some soda and candy, and my husband by my side.

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