Some people aren’t quite sure where their future career path will lead. Others identify their chosen profession quite early in life. And, some build their careers on identifying opportunities as they present themselves. For Adriana Kong Romero, senior vice president of global commercial banking and combined coverage market executive for the west region for Bank of America, her professional growth and leadership success have involved a mix of the three approaches. 

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In her youth, family influence had a major impact on Romero’s ambition and drive. “[My parents] were educators, and my mom could tell that I wasn’t really [motivated by] education as a career, so she pushed me toward business,” Romero explains.

In high school, Romero gained further insight into how shaping a business career might manifest. 

“It was through a DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) internship program in high school,” she says. “I always thought I was going to go into accounting, but when I was a senior in high school, I started with Chase Bank as an intern; that was my first taste of banking.” 

From there, Romero attended University of Arizona where she was hired as a teller at Bank of America. “The only difference was that Bank of America stayed open until 6 p.m., and Chase closed at 4 p.m., so that gave me two extra hours,” she recalls. 

Throughout her time in school and as her career in banking progressed, Romero says she’s benefited from continued professional guidance. “I’ve had many mentors throughout the years and you just get little nuggets from each one of them,” she says. 

One of the career knowledge tidbits Romero has gleaned along the way is maintaining flexibility as a leader. “It depends on the role and what’s being asked,” she notes. “I have a very diverse group [of employees]. I have 11 direct reports across four states. But then I also have a leadership team that leads our initiatives in Tucson. So, I think I tend to adapt to the different roles and the tasks at hand.”

Her adaptability, combined with seizing opportunities as they’ve come along, are part of what has led to — and inspired — Romero’s 25-plus year longevity with Bank of America. 

“I wear two hats,” Romero says of her current position. “The first hat is the market president for the Tucson market. I’m also the combined coverage West region market executive in commercial banking, overseeing four states — California, Southern Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas.”

Romero adds that she’s been in the commercial banking space since 2001. “We had a unique opportunity to look at certain markets and blend our middle market and business banking divisions. So in 2021, that’s when I took on the [commercial banking] role, it has been great because I have everything from cattle to green chili to wine [as clients].”

Today, Romero expresses gratitude for being in a position of leadership and being able to share the type of mentorship and guidance for which she was given, as well as embracing relationships with fellow leaders. 

“I’ve had the opportunity to meet different leaders that you normally don’t get to know within your group or cohort,” she says. “That’s been very rewarding throughout the years.”