The Financial Journey is a unique series focused on financial education and opportunities. These stories have been created through a strategic partnership between Wells Fargo and Word In Black.
WIB: Can you describe your role at Wells Fargo?
Sanders: I am the head of Wells Fargo Auto, which is an indirect auto lending business that offers consumers vehicle financing through a network of about 10,300 dealers across the country. We serve more than 2.5 million consumers’ auto financing needs, and we are deeply committed to responsible lending through all economic cycles.
WIB: What would you say is the best part of the work you get to do?
Sanders: The people – both the colleagues I get to work with and the customers we get to do business with. Helping people obtain affordable financing for a vehicle is so important – because for so many of us, our cars help us to live our best lives. Cars help us get to the jobs that support our families, get to school and the education that’s important for our future and cars help us get to our family and friends for those important milestones in life.
WIB: What does diversity and Inclusion mean for you?
Sanders: Diversity and inclusion is about valuing differences as a strength, a competitive advantage – on the individual level and for teams. In the context of business, creating an environment that allows people to be themselves and offer unique perspectives helps us develop better solutions, better products and better outcomes for our customers and employees. We perform better because we’ve had the advantage of including different perspectives. It is the secret sauce that can take teams from good to great; and at scale, can become a force multiplier for any business.
WIB: What is one piece of career advice you can give to our readers?
Sanders: Commit to continuous learning. The pace of change around is constant and accelerating. If you can embrace change as an opportunity to learn something new it will make the difference between being seen as a leader, or innovator, versus being left behind.
WIB: Having a role in banking can seem daunting at times, what do you enjoy most outside of work?
Sanders: Spending time with family and friends energizes me outside of work. My kids are busy with activities, and my husband and I have so much fun watching them play sports and taking them on adventures to explore their own interests. When I’m not with family or friends, I’m likely buried in a good book.
WIB: Describe your proudest moment to date.
Sanders: My proudest moment to date is graduating from college. It may not seem like a big deal now, but looking back, it was the pride that my parents had in seeing that success that makes me smile. I was the first in my immediate family to graduate from college. I worked a few jobs throughout my time in college and had to take on student loans, but after graduating I stayed very focus on paying down my student loan debt within 5 years. I achieved that goal and then went on to get my MBA 10 years later, while working full-time, through my company’s tuition reimbursement program.
WIB: What would you say is the most important lesson about finances?
Sanders: Good habits pay off over time – set goals and track your progress. Similar to good health, good financial fitness takes discipline and practice. If you get off track, course correct, recommit to your goals, and start early. Your older-self will thank your younger-self.
WIB: Can you describe a pivotal moment in your career?
Sanders: My academic background is in mechanical engineering, and I started my career in that field using mathematical models in gas turbine and power plant design. As I had more exposure to Corporate America, my love of math and problem solving made me curious about how businesses made money. I decided to make a career pivot to a leadership development program that taught me more about finance and how businesses make money. It was that experience, making the switch from engineering to finance, that ultimately led me to banking.
WIB: What does having an “authentic voice” mean for you?
Sanders: Having an authentic voice means sharing your point of view through your life experience and values. You can change jobs or companies, but your core values and life experience don’t change. Often in Corporate America, if you’re the only Black person in the room, or one of a few, it may feel risky to speak up and give a different perspective. Know that your voice is needed to continue to evolve and make that same room more accessible and accepting for the next person.