ELFA - Equipment Leasing and Finance Association - Equipping Business for Success

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Women's Spotlight

This new Q&A series is brought to you by the ELFA Women’s Council

Margaret Gutierrez

Senior Vice President, Corporate Credit Officer
KeyBank, N.A. and Key Equipment Finance

Women's Spotlight: Margaret Gutierrez

What traits have made you successful in the various roles you have held?

The belief that “I can do it” along with strong organization & prioritization skills, initiative, curiosity & open-mindedness.

How did you start your career in the equipment finance industry?

By accident. Prior to joining the industry, I was a bank regulator and I was hired by Key Equipment Finance to assist with the acquisition of an unregulated vendor leasing company. I was responsible for bringing the leasing company’s risk management activities into compliance with banking rules and regulations. It was an energizing and eye-opening experience where I learned about leasing along with the challenges of blending company cultures.

What is the best piece of career advice you've been given?

An executive leader at Key gave me some advice that still resonates with me today. She counseled that, when looking for advancement opportunities, women tend to review an opportunity and focus on the skills that they are lacking instead of focusing on the skills and strengths they bring to table. Consequently, women hesitate to “throw their hat into the ring” unless they meet all the requirements and, as a result, we pursue fewer opportunities, even the opportunities for which we are qualified. Now when I’m evaluating an opportunity, I will pursue it even if I do not meet all the requirements. This mindset and approach have opened up more challenging opportunities, where I performed well, thrived and was able to advance my career.

What do you consider your best professional asset? How do you put it to use?

Having the confidence to say “I don’t know” and then getting the help and guidance to answer/address the question.

What is something unique about you?

I know how to make Bourbon, Rye Whiskey, American Agave Spirits (i.e., Tequila), Rum and Vodka. I own a distillery with my husband and have been producing distilled spirits in Colorado for a while. It is an art and science. I was also the class valedictorian from Bartending and Mixology school so I can make a decent cocktail!

What’s your mantra and why?

I have two mantras, one professional and one personal. My professional mantra is “Smooth seas don’t make skillful sailors.” I adopted this mantra during the Great Recession because that time is when I gained the most valuable experiences of my career. My personal mantra is “If you have the choice between being right and being kind, choose being kind” because kind is just better.

What are some of your extracurricular activities?

I’m a board member for a foundation that raises money and provides scholarships to at-risk and low-income high school graduates.

What do you do to relax / unwind?

Puzzles and gardening. I can’t wait for summer. I love to grow tomatoes, chilies, squash, cucumbers and eggplant.

Interview and editing by: Lexie Dressman, Counsel – Senior, Huntington Asset Finance
Visit the Women’s Leadership page for additional resources from the ELFA Women’s Council.