Senior vice president and chief operations officer, Five Star Bank
Lydia Ramirez knows banking is not a typical dream career. “I can probably say that no little girl that you ask at the age of 5 says, ‘I wanna be a banker when I grow up.’” Nonetheless, the senior vice president and chief operations officer of Five Star Bank has found fulfillment and success throughout her 20-plus-year career in banking.
She oversees branch administration, central operations, electronic banking and client services at Roseville-based Five Star Bank. Since joining Five Star Bank in 2017, Ramirez has increased internal efficiencies by updating training procedures and restructuring operations. She hired more staff, including numerous young women of color. Her improvements, including her advancement of the online banking system and electronic procedures, helped establish the institution as one of the nation’s top performing banks of its size.
The pandemic created new demands and called for new objectives. With many local small businesses in danger of closing, Ramirez led the operations team through the Paycheck Protection Program loan process to assist customers. Her group opened 850 accounts and processed more than 1,000 loans, contributing $250 million to the Capital Region.
She attributes her accomplishments, such as being recognized as the Sacramento region’s highest-ranking Latina in the banking field, to her drive to learn, grow and inspire leadership in others. “I’m a super driven person,” she says. “That has always been instilled in me by both my parents. You can’t just rest on your laurels, there’s always more.”
“Don’t be afraid of change, take risks, and be confident in what you’re able to do.”
A native of Sacramento, Ramirez graduated with bachelor’s degrees in psychology and Spanish language and literature from UC Davis. She spent 16 years at Union Bank before leaving for a position as senior vice president at Five Star Bank. In early 2021, she earned her executive MBA from Sacramento State, using the degree to be even more effective in her position. “I’m the kind of person that needs, like, seven irons in the fire in order to find Zen. It’s kind of weird. I perform much better at a high-octane level.”
Having benefited from executive training programs and guidance from those in leadership positions, Ramirez knows the value of mentorship. She pays it forward by fostering emerging talent. “I was able to help mentor some amazing (up-and-coming) leaders within the company and bring in some fantastic talent that I hope to continue to grow as we move forward,” she says.
Her investment in mentees goes beyond her work at Five Star to helping young Latinas via the Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. As a board member and vice chair, Ramirez leads seminars where she coaches relationship-building and educates small-business owners on how to effectively use resources, walking them through grant applications and PPP loan processes. She also helps them bring their businesses up to date with online banking enterprises and e-commerce functionality. She says one of her primary goals is to encourage the next generation of business owners to “not be afraid of downturns.”
In addition to imparting practical skills, Ramirez seeks to inspire through representation. “Right now in the finance industry, when you look at the top of the house, you very rarely see a person of color,” she says. “You very rarely see a woman. So for me to sit in the C-suite with the rest of the executives in 2021 is such a huge thing for me. It’s important to show that it’s possible.”
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