FirstBank believes in ensuring diversity is represented at each level of the organization. In May, we celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Month (AAPI) by recognizing and celebrating some of FirstBank’s Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander employees.

Today, we’re featuring Ann Allen, Business Analyst.

Hometown: Richmond, Virginia

Years at FirstBank: 2 years

Other positions held with organizations/boards:

  • GiSTEM– Head of Mathematics

In three to four sentences, describe your experience in getting to where you are today.

I graduated from college with a Math and Statistics degree, and besides teaching, I had no idea what kind of job I would land with my education. Not wanting to teach, I applied for various jobs in different sectors and ended up in the financial technology realm as a business analyst. I’ve been honing my craft at FirstBank ever since.  

How has FirstBank’s companywide philosophy of “banking for good” impacted your life and your career?

Being in the same role at different companies for over seven years has opened my eyes to what kind of company I want to work for. When I started at FirstBank, I was amazed to see how many employees have worked their way up from teller to management and beyond. FirstBank’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts allow me to work with diverse groups across all areas of the bank. I also enjoy giving back to my community using FirstBank’s Volunteer Time Off (VTO) hours and access to several volunteer opportunities.

What is the best career advice you have for the next generation of leaders? What would you tell someone just starting out?  

Job roles are always changing and may be uncertain at times, so it’s helpful to have a diverse set of skills and willing to add new skills. I have failed and been rejected many times, but I never stopped trying, and now here I am.

Considering May is AAPI Heritage Month, which historical figure/s would you most like to meet and why?

  • Wu Ze Tian was China’s only female emperor. It’s interesting to see how she went from an Emperor’s concubine to an Emperor herself. If I could meet Wu Ze Tian, I’d ask how she got into that position and whether it was worth the trouble.
  • Zheng He was a Chinese explorer during the Ming Dynasty. He traveled over the world from Southeast Asia to East Africa. I first learned about Zheng He when I was a child in Chinese school. Ever since then, I’ve always wondered why he traveled so far, and I’d love to ask him what that experience was like.
  • Maggie L. Walker was the first African American woman to charter a bank and the first African American woman to serve as a bank president in the United States. Growing up in Richmond, VA, I learned about her in history class. Maggie’s story has always motivated me, especially because she grew up in a time without the equal right to vote.  She persevered to become a civil rights and women’s rights advocate. If I could meet Maggie, I’d want to let her know she did a lot for the city of Richmond. I’d also ask where she gets the motivation for her ideas.
  • Katherine Johnson was an African American mathematician who worked for NASA from 1953 to 1986. I first learned about Katherine after watching Hidden Figures with my daughter. She was appalled at how much Katherine went through while working at NASA, but she was amazed by Katherine’s tenacity. Since I studied math in college, I’d like to sit down with Katherine and learn more about her thought process and projects she worked on at NASA. I’d also thank her for never giving up and letting her knowledge shine because it helps paved a path for other Women.

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