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Dana Bockstahler: The Strength of Quiet Influence

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Dana Bockstahler serves as CEO of BAC Community Bank and is the current president of the Children’s Home of Stockton. Approaching each challenge in life as a learning opportunity has made her the successful businesswoman she is today.

Surrounding herself with talented people, Dana has led technology initiatives and business culture shifts at the bank while sharing her professional expertise with various community non-profit organizations. She firmly believes that everyone can make a positive impact through humble leadership, not just high-profile influencers. Dana describes some people as “quiet influencers” who have a greater impact on people and process than they may imagine.

As a life-long learner, navigating change and finding ways to improve are things that Dana enjoys. She said, “I am always forward-thinking, so that when things get accomplished, I am generally already working on the next thing.” 

Currently she leads an initiative at BAC that she calls “Digital First (not digital only).” The goal is to empower the customer by making banking services available both remotely and in-person. Continuous innovations provide many benefits, but at the end of the day it is all about relationships.

Dana’s drive has been shaped by her life experiences. Her professional career began as she completed her finance degree in 1985, but it wasn’t a smooth start. By 1986, the national bank she had just begun working for was sold to a larger bank and Dana’s position was eliminated. The layoff occurred in the midst of a financial crisis and the job market was tough. Dana was offered a job by an institution that was in the process of being shut down by federal regulators. Although knowing that it would only be temporary employment, she accepted the offer. “I took it as a career move that would provide me exposure and experience,” she explained. “I knew my time there was limited, but I took the job to learn.”

When the bank was closed in 1987, she started her job search again. This time she was hired to be the controller of BAC Community Bank in Stockton. After working for three different institutions in a span of less than three years, Dana finally found a stable company to call home.

Three decades have passed since she accepted employment at BAC. Over the years that followed, Dana became the bank’s chief financial officer, then chief operating officer, and in 2019 she was appointed chief executive officer.

In the early years, BAC was a much smaller bank. “You get much greater exposure to different areas when working in a smaller organization,” Dana said. The variety of responsibilities she had as CFO prepared her for the role of COO. Such broad knowledge and experience serve her well now in her role as CEO, running a bank that has been a community institution since 1965.

The same things that drove Dana to financial services initially are what keep her in banking today. “I have always found the movement of money fascinating,” she explained. “I am interested in learning how different businesses operate, what their processes are, and how money moves through their organizations. Such understanding allows the bank to tailor solutions to each customer’s unique needs.” She enjoys talking with local business owners to learn from them and to find creative ways to both serve and support them, in good times and bad. She takes these insights back to BAC and quietly implements strategies and plans to best meet customer needs.

When it comes to local small businesses, Dana affirmed, “What I think is extremely important is that those businesses create jobs in our communities. The money earned from those jobs is spent locally. And as a community bank, we support them because nationally small businesses create more jobs than large organizations.” 

Leading a community bank that is itself a small business provides both challenges and rewards. Fresh on everyone’s minds today is the pandemic. But a decade ago the Great Recession resulted in many similar financial storms, and those were weathered too. The bank’s management team led BAC through those challenging times while also helping their customers rise to the challenge. Dana reflected, “As a result, not only are many of our customers survivors of that time, we as a bank are a survivor of that time.” 

In describing the successes of the bank, Dana is quick to point out that it’s not about her. “Rather, it’s about a team that builds a well-respected bank. We do business in a fair and honest manner. We do what we say we are going to do, and if we mess up, we fix it. It’s building that reputation and culture over time that is the cornerstone of our longevity and success.”

The culture at BAC Community Bank is one set by example. “I think it’s important to be involved, not to just stand back and tell people what to do,” Dana continued. “I don’t expect anybody to do anything that I won’t do. If we have a challenging situation, I will be the first one to arrive and the last one to leave. I will be in the trenches with everyone, and our customers know and appreciate that they can always find me working side by side with our team to meet their needs.”

When it comes to personal growth, Dana gives credit to the influence of her co-workers. “Some help me by supporting me, disagreeing with me or even being willing to challenge me,” she said. “I welcome their feedback and appreciate the various perspectives and experience their insights reveal.”

As a soft-spoken quiet influencer herself, Dana Bockstahler leads by example. “I aim to do the right thing, always,” she said. “As long as I am doing that, it’s a good day.”