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Updated: October 26, 2020 2020 Outstanding women in business

Outstanding Women in Business: King-Goodwin’s leadership style pushes banking forward

Photo | Matthew Wright Sheila King-Goodwin

Sheila King-Goodwin never envisioned herself going into banking, never mind making a career out of it and rising to the rank of a senior vice president.

A native of the small city of Spartanburg, S.C., King-Goodwin went to college wanting to be an attorney.

“I always tell people, ‘No one grows up saying they want to be a banker,’” she said. “That includes me.”

It was only after going into a management training role at a bank after college King-Goodwin realized the appeal of leading people, and working to help clients reach their financial goals. She felt her personality and career goals were aligned well with person-to-person contact that was a cornerstone of banking, especially before technology and the coronavirus pandemic forced change.

That first job was with a North Carolina bank, and she’s since worked for other major banks including Fleet – now part of Bank of America – and Citizens Bank, and most recently PeoplesBank of Holyoke.

Today, King-Goodwin is senior vice president and chief retail banking officer at Fidelity Bank in Leominster, which has $1.2 billiion in assets. In that role, which she’s held since joining Fidelity in August 2019, she oversees all 14 branches, the customer call center and the investment team. For someone who got into banking as a people person, the pandemic has both uprooted that way of doing business and solidified the importance of relationships.

“It’s clear she cares deeply about the clients we serve and the colleagues she works with,” said Christopher McCarthy, Fidelity’s COO and the person to whom King-Goodwin directly reports.

Under the leadership of King-Goodwin and others, Fidelity processed more than 400 loans through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which helped keep many small businesses afloat.

“In 30 years of banking, that was most memorable,” King-Goodwin said of PPP and its role, through Fidelity and other banks, in keeping businesses open and workers employed. “To hear the relief in their voices, it makes you feel like this is the best part of being a banker, to know that you’re helping a client who really needs you.”

If King-Goodwin got into banking because of her personality, it’s been her determination and leadership skills that have gotten her ahead. Today, it’s a commitment to making online banking simple – as easy as shopping on Amazon, she said. More typically, it’s a leadership style McCarthy describes as positive and inspirational.

King-Goodwin has embedded herself in the community, serving on an advisory board for Entrepreneurship for All, a Lowell-based program aiming to help early-stage entrepreneurs, which is planning a Worcester outpost.

King-Goodwin is helping to bring better equality to the industry, too. She leads Fidelity’s diversity and inclusion initiative, working to help the bank be a more inclusive employer and community partner.

King-Goodwin has seen the role of women in banking evolve over her three decades in the industry. She sees it as simply being inclusive – in the same way a bank would have someone available who speaks, say, Spanish in order to help a broader segment of the population.

“I hope it’s been a natural progression,” King-Goodwin said, “and that qualified women were selected because they were qualified.”

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