A new day at The New Washington State Bank with CEO Jessica Carroll at the helm
By Laura Ross
Photos by Zach Schansberg
FARMER’S WIFE. MOM OF A TEEN. ACTIVE COMMUNITY VOLUNTEER. OH, AND THE NEW WASHINGTON STATE BANK CEO. JESSICA CARROLL IS BUSY.
“I’m everywhere these days,” laughed the CEO of New Washington State Bank. At the young age of 41, the dynamic executive is on a fast track to success and service in Southern Indiana.
Banking is in the Indiana native’s blood. Carroll, who grew up in New Washington, graduated from Hanover College with a degree in business administration and set her sights on an accounting career. As a college student, she took a job with New Washington State Bank in 1998 and found her home.
New Washington Sate Bank was founded in 1908 to serve surrounding farm communities. Over the years, branches were added in Henryville, Charlestown, Borden, Jeffersonville, Sellersburg, Scottsburg and River Ridge. A new branch in New Albany will open soon.
“I worked in the bookkeeping department while I was in school, and once I graduated, I worked as an assistant to the controller,” she said. “I number crunched until 2007 and then became a risk officer and moved into lending.”
Fateful timing put her entrance to lending right at the economic downturn, but that didn’t deter Carroll. “It was an enormous education,” she said, “I learned how a bank worked from the inside out and learned how to work with customers.”
As she rose through the ranks, bank officials took notice and encouraged her growth, with an eye toward guiding Carroll into the bank’s succession planning.
“When I moved to the risk officer position, and later, as COO, I got to work with real estate sales, appraisals and helped develop policy and lending compliance,” she explained. “I was in the right spot at the right time to get the right experience. I had a great mentor in our past president, Pat Glotzbach, who took me under his wing and taught me.”
When Glotzbach left the bank in 2017, his position was split into two jobs with Pat Daily assuming the president role and Carroll taking on the CEO position in June 2018. She was named president and CEO of New Washington State Bank’s holding company in 2019.
Becoming a young, female CEO of a community bank in a traditionally male-dominated industry is not lost on Carroll. But, it’s also not something she dwells upon.
“It’s surreal and humbling,” Carroll explained. “I never really thought of myself as different, as a woman. Our bank has a female chairperson and directors, and I’ve worked with talented women in banking my entire career. Everyone has always been supportive.”
Carroll added: “I like to prove any doubters wrong. I’m not naive, and I know it’s a very male-dominated industry, but I also know the tide has turned and there are so many women in leadership positions, both in banking and the Southern Indiana business community. Last year, a customer told me I had inspired his daughter to accomplish things and it hit me then: I’m proud of what I do, but I also just come to work every day. I’m not the bank. The bank is our 95 employees working hard every day in our community, giving back and getting to know our neighbors in Southern Indiana.”
Carroll and her team focus on strategic thinking and have future growth plans for the independent, locally-owned bank. “We work with our neighbors, our friends and our community,” she said. “All decisions are made here, and we excel in serving small businesses, providing mortgages, and construction lending. We know it’s important to be good citizens of our community.”
“We want to help people grow and follow their dreams,” Carroll explained. “That’s the true value of a community bank.”
One of New Washington State Bank’s newest branches landed in the River Ridge area in 2015, and the bank plans to open another branch in New Albany in mid-October. “River Ridge is such a growing and dynamic area for business, and has just blossomed our community,” she said. “It’s unbelievable and exciting how many good paying jobs there are at River Ridge. There was a need for a bank there, and we knew we had a large customer base passing through the Highway 62 corridor every day. We are happy to service the many River Ridge area employees with a community bank focus.”
As the bank spreads its footprint across Southern Indiana, Carroll and her team focus on giving back. “I serve on the Greater Clark Education Foundation, Clark County Extension Board, Southern Indiana Partnership Council for the Center for Women and Families and more,” she said. “We also work with the Indiana Banking Association Future Leadership Advisory Board. As a bank, we give a lot of money to our schools, our fire departments, our churches and booster clubs. We are a part of these communities and are proud to support them.”
Strong community involvement has always been an important part of the bank’s mission and vision. “We want to help people grow and follow their dreams,” Carroll explained. “That’s the true value of a community bank.”
But banking is not Carroll’s all-consuming passion. She also is married to her high school sweetheart, Aaron, and has a 12-year-old daughter, Gracen, who is active in drama, band and chorus.
I like to paint and craft, and I like to bake for stress release. If my husband comes home and I’ve baked a pie, he knows I’ve had a bad day.
“We run a cattle and grain farm in northern Clark County outside of New Washington, (Indiana),” said Carroll, noting her husband also works as an agronomist and sells seed and fertilizer. “We are a super busy family, but we love that.”
Running a bank, being a wife and mom and active community volunteer and mentor doesn’t leave much time for personal relaxation. “What’s that?” laughed Carroll. “I enjoy being on the farm and being outdoors. The farm is my center. I’m really an introvert and to get out and do some of the things that are required for a bank CEO is tough, but I’ve learned to balance. You can’t let mom guilt get to you. I love my time at the bank, and I love being at home with my family. I know my limits and what makes me tick. I like to paint and craft, and I like to bake for stress release. If my husband comes home and I’ve baked a pie, he knows I’ve had a bad day. A good day is any time with my daughter – home is my happy place.”
For Carroll it’s about having the best of both worlds. “As a bank, we’re small, but mighty. One of my goals is to be in top 10 percent of community banks in Indiana,” she said.
At the end of the day, though, it always comes back to community. “My work is so fulfilling, but I know my job as both CEO and mom is so important,” Carroll said. “My daughter is proud when she’s at an event with me or sees my picture in the paper. I have raised her to know that she can be a CEO, too. There’s no limit to what she can do in the future, and that excites me.”
And, you can take that to the bank.