I strive to be inclusive and open-minded in building relationships, to gather ideas from the broader team and empower them to make decisions.
Why do you believe honoring achievement is important?
I believe it is important to recognize when someone is excelling in their field. Positive feedback makes people feel appreciated and valued as professionals, and it reinvigorates us even on our toughest days. It’s no different for business leaders. Whether formal or informal, recognition can inspire excellence. The opportunity to recognize others, and to be recognized, makes us all want to improve how we lead and do business.
As leaders, it’s important to lift each other up and recognize when someone is doing great things. Although our industries may vary, business leaders all have similar goals of growing successful teams and positively impacting our local communities and economy. We are fortunate when we have opportunities to come together and celebrate each other. I know I’m inspired by my fellow Women of Achievement awardees, all of whom are incredible leaders and so important to our local business community.
What insights have you gained in your career that would inspire others?
Life, including our work life, is a marathon, not a sprint. When we are young, we may idealize a straight line of advancement or achievement. We have big goals for ourselves and can’t wait to reach them. But there are many twists and turns along the way — rarely a straight line to these goals. However, even if you are not reaching those life or work goals as quickly as you’d like, that’s OK. There are always development and learning opportunities along the way that make us better in the long run.
Stay the course, and don’t give up. Embrace the twists and turns and always work to put your best self forward, no matter what. Look for opportunities to develop skills you may not have and be willing to put yourself out there to gain them — you don’t always need to be the expert, just be willing to learn. It’s how you’ll grow into the person you were always meant to be.
What can we do — now — to make a difference for young people/women in Arizona?
In a rapidly changing world, leaders are finding that skills such as collaboration, creative and critical thinking, and communication are increasingly vital to an employee’s long-term success. At PNC, we know that embracing and promoting diversity, equity and inclusion is about being a better company, a better employer, a better neighbor and a better investment.
By providing opportunities like paid internships, businesses can grow their own workforce and give opportunities that some populations may not have historically had access to. In Arizona, we are fortunate to have high-quality postsecondary institutions filled with enthusiastic students of all backgrounds. Here at PNC Bank, we also invest in the community to support safe havens and opportunities to learn through organizations like The Boys & Girls Clubs, Valley of the Sun United Way and Junior Achievement. In the workplace, mentoring, both formal and informal, is important — giving leadership opportunities where and when possible.
Cathleen Walker is regional president for Phoenix/Northern Arizona and head of Corporate Banking for Arizona and New Mexico for PNC Bank. Walker, a 30-year PNC veteran, was an EVP and managing director in the PNC Debt Capital Markets group prior to moving to Arizona. Walker currently serves on the boards of directors for Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Arizona Commerce Authority and Southwest Human Development, is a co-chair of the VSUW MC2026 Cabinet, and is a member of Greater Phoenix Leadership and Golden Seeds. Walker holds an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh and a B.A. in economics from Pennsylvania State University.
In Few Words
- What was the last course, certification or training you took to improve yourself professionally? I recently completed PNC’s Minority Business Advocate program. Advocates become knowledgeable of the unique challenges facing minority businesses, and learn about solutions to empower, educate and accelerate entrepreneurial growth and success.
- What would you say is a single characteristic OTHERS might attribute to you that defines your success? Authenticity
- What is the one thing you feel you could work on professionally to be a greater success? Organization
- What is the one professional skill you have that has gotten you where you are today? Facilitator
- What is the single greatest issue facing Arizona today? Workforce development and talent recruitment continues to be a challenge for all industries.