By: Chris Thoennes
Vice President, Commercial Lending
NMLS #: 1591984
Running a bank branch and managing a hotel might not seem to have much overlap – but the customer service component has certainly translated easily for Andi Whalen.
Andi has recently stepped into the role of branch manager for INB’s Bloomington branch, in a second career in banking after a stint in hospitality management.
Andi, originally from Bloomington and a graduate of Normal Community High School, left for New Mexico after high school, where she worked for a credit union.
“I was looking for a job in the financial field. I love math and numbers; it’s always clicked for me,” she said. “A family member referred me to the credit union and said ‘You’d be good at this.’ I absolutely loved it right off the bat. It introduced me to banking and customer service.”
Andi’s next move was to return to Bloomington to manage a hotel for four years, obtaining her hotel operations certificate. “The hospitality industry taught me a lot more than I could have asked for about customer service!” she laughed.
Transitioning Back to Financial Services
Eventually, Andi was drawn back to the banking industry. After working for nearly four years in a local credit union, she points to the community culture of INB as a major attraction to her new position.
“I’ve been impressed with the level of standards INB holds itself to,” she said. “Our customers are nice, our culture is very encouraging and supportive, and everybody helps everybody else. Even walking in for my interviews, everybody interacted with me in a very positive way without knowing if I was there for an interview or to make a deposit.”
Andi comes from a large family – her parents and one sister are still in the area, while four other siblings are spread across the Midwest. They remain close and make sure to get together for the holiday season every year.
She also gets to see her dad often on summer weekends as the two spend time at their RVs parked next to each other at Wildwood Campgrounds. Andi loves taking her two dogs camping for what she calls “mini vacations.”
“I like spending time outside; in the summer time, I try to make it out to the campground several times a month,” she said. “My dad camps next to me, and we go kayaking, fishing, hiking. We play a lot of yard games.”
‘Fire Lit’ to Help Bloomington Community
Aside from her banking career and spending time outdoors, community service has become very important to Andi. Currently, she serves on the Board of the Bloomington-Normal Jaycees, and she is a frequent volunteer at the Midwest Food Bank.
“I went to a Jaycees event that lit a fire in me. I realized all I did was work and go home. I reached out to see what I could be doing for the community, what I could do to give back,” Andi said. “I know I have a certain skillset, and I asked, ‘How can I use that to help people?’
“The Jaycees have their hand in everything; there’s always something going on. It’s amazing what a group of people can do when they put their minds to something,” she added. “I really love the Christmas parade, because it’s nothing but joy from the crowd. We also do Thanksgiving meals and baskets; that’s another favorite of mine, and it makes a huge impact.”
Through her community involvement, her hometown relationships and her new role at INB, Andi is looking forward to driving awareness about INB’s financial services to the Bloomington area and cultivating new customer relationships.
“We have so much to offer with a high level of standards, accuracy of the work we do, and customer service we provide,” she said. “People sometimes think they are stuck at the bank they are at and don’t realize they can choose a better experience.
“It’ll be fun to make our name known and get more customers through the door. I’m excited by the team here and learning from everybody, and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do.”