Heather Parker Plumski finds a home at Stearns Bank – CSB/SJU

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No two days are alike for Heather Parker Plumski ’05, but the one constant since graduating from College of Saint Benedict is the organization she works for: Stearns Bank, NA

“I like a challenge,” Plumski said. “I like change. A lot of people say that, but I really, really experienced it. Stearns Bank is a constantly evolving institution. I don’t come to work and I don’t start from the same checklist and that’s been true for 16 years.

And in that relatively short time, she went from credit analyst to executive vice president, chief financial and strategy officer for an organization of more than 400 employees with assets of more than $2.3 billion. .

Originally from Long Prairie, a short drive northwest of the CSB campus, she began by pursuing a degree in forensic science at a private university in St. Paul. After deciding not to follow a path that would have meant at least six years of higher education and discovering that she yearned for the peace she knew outside the subway, she came to Saint Ben’s as a sophomore and graduated. his accounting degree in two years. During her stay, she said, CSB strengthened her ability to think critically and ask deep questions.

“I really enjoyed the diversity of what I studied,” Plumski said. “I appreciated the richness of the teaching. Theology and science really challenged me – especially theology class, where a person can read a verse and approach it differently or interpret it differently than me. It’s this kind of thinking that’s really important. You can communicate with others, knowing that their point of view on the same thing may be very different. This type of thinking runs through everything.

After working for a local bank during her final year in Saint Ben’s, Plumski started at Stearns Bank as a credit analyst, and quickly branched out into other roles.

When the Great Recession hit, she began to focus on due diligence, reviewing the credit of failing banks that Stearns had acquired or was seeking to acquire. She then led all credit analysts from 2011 to 2013 and served as senior credit risk manager from 2013 to 2017. She also worked with a software developer to create Stearns’ own stress testing system.

“We had bought something off the shelf but, with the complexity of our portfolio, it didn’t work out,” Plumski said. “After that, I oversaw the technology area from 2017 to 2019.”

She has been instrumental in many of Stearns Bank’s acquisitions as well as initiatives to establish a low-budget small business administration lending program and to improve operational efficiencies in the corporate finance division. equipment.

“The same organization employed me, and we still have the core of our culture, but it’s almost like taking on a new job once in a while,” she said. “If you look at what I do today, it’s actually very similar to forensic science. I try to find the connections for effectiveness and impact on results. I try to challenge the norm and the way things have always been done so that we can continue to do our best and be the best.

Women make up more than 65% of Stearns Bank’s staff, with a similar ratio in management and executive positions. Like most employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Plumski continues to do much of her work remotely. It meets the needs of his family well. She and her husband, Jamie, have four children aged 4 to 15.

Recently, when they were at school, she was able to concentrate on the business of Stearns Bank – which stretches almost from coast to coast – while the wind gently swayed the trees outside the window of his home office.

“It all comes down to your strengths and your beliefs,” Plumski said. “Where is your foundation? For me, I could be in the middle of nowhere in Montana and have as many foundations as here. I don’t have the same foundation in a big city because I find it claustrophobic and noisy. But I found where I can spread my wings most comfortably.

And his hopes for tomorrow are dashed.

“I want to continue to be part of growing Stearns’ bottom line,” Plumski said. “It means doing better what I’m doing today. It’s not like you come to this position and you’ve learned everything. There’s still a lot to do.

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