Position: Executive vice president, retail banking, Virginia Commerce Bank, an Arlington-based community bank with about $1.3 billion in assets.

Career highlights: Senior vice president and retail banking manager, BB&T; senior vice president and retail sales manager, First Virginia Bank (later merged with BB&T); management trainee, First Virginia Bank.

Age: 39.

Education: BA, economics with minor in history, University of Virginia; certificate, Consumer Bankers Association Graduate School of Retail Bank Management, University of Virginia.

Personal: Lives in Gainesville, Va., with wife, Hilai, and their children, Ariana, 8, and Zachary, 4.

How did you get to where you are?

After I graduated from UVA with an economics degree, I knew that I wanted a career in financial services, but I hadn't decided upon a specific industry segment. I decided to take a position as a teller at a bank in Charlottesville to get my foot in the door and learn about the banking business. It brought back memories of my childhood when I would visit the bank with my uncle -- I was fascinated by the vault and all the things that went on in the bank. The lollipops were good, too.

I really enjoyed my teller experience and decided to pursue a career in banking. In 1990, I had the opportunity to join First Virginia Bank's management training program and move to Northern Virginia. I have spent my entire career in retail banking as I progressed from management trainee to branch manager to retail administration. I have truly learned the business from the ground up. I learned the critical role our tellers have as the face of the bank to create positive experiences for our clients.

As a consumer, I pay careful attention to the service that I receive. We have all had poor service experiences and I never want that to happen at our bank.

One of the challenges that I've seen in the banking industry is that it can get too bogged down in rules and procedures. Sure, we have to have effective systems to ensure accuracy and regulatory compliance, but we also need to empower our service providers to make common-sense decisions that lead to efficient, positive and memorable experiences. Such an environment also enhances employee satisfaction, which also makes its way back to the customer. Whether as a rookie assistant manager or in my current role, I have always focused on ways to make the business easy and enjoyable both for our employees and customers.

Until now, I have spent my career at much larger organizations. I am truly enjoying my role in a community bank where we all live in and are devoted to the success of Northern Virginia and greater D.C. We have many more personal relationships with our clients and our size makes us nimble.

-- Judith Mbuya