By RACHEL McFADDEN
Alice Springs Community Bank branch manager, Renee DeMarco (pictured), has a tendency to downplay her success.
At 26, she has worked her way up to become one of Alice’s few born and bred female bank managers. There have been setbacks or “hurdles” as Renee recalls, her positive attitude filling the room, having being diagnosed with cancer at 24.
She is surprised and “a little bit nervous” when she enthusiastically accepts an interview with the Alice Springs News Online.
She’s humble: “Although I’m not quite sure why you would like to do a story about me … I’m happy to help.” I suspect it’s a more to give me a hand, than to toot her own horn.
Last month, Renee stepped into her role as the manager after working at the branch for the past five years, six months after its opening in 2009.
Starting off as a customer service officer and moving into customer relations, Renee believes in the virtue of working your way up.
“I believe in the stepping stones,” Renee says. “I’ve been in the positions of my staff, I know the ropes and can offer practical advice and assistance.
Meeting Renee, it’s no surprise she has got to the position she has. She’s got spark.
Having worked from the tender age of 12 in Carlos Penhiro’s Milner Road Foodtown, Renee attributes her hard work ethic to his influence.
He gave Renee her first job outside of her family who are entrepreneurs and small business owners: “He really helped build me and shape me as a professional,” Renee says.
Her professionalism and work ethic was soon recognised when she moved into a supervision role between the ages of 16-17. “Carlos made me accountable. I love a challenge.”
Her next mentors, Kerry Fegan and Trina Ettridge, with Australian Central Credit Union, showed her the ropes in banking and finance and demonstrated that women can move into senior positions in a traditionally male dominated sector.
She joined the Bendigo Bank in 2009. “I have heard that there can be barriers in this sector, but at Bendigo Bank I’ve received nothing but support and encouragement,” she says.
Bendigo Bank was no more supportive than when Renee was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at age 24. She had to relocate to Darwin where she underwent repeated surgery and was in and out of hospital for eight months.
“It was a tough time,” Renee says, “but I couldn’t believe the amount of support I got from friends, family and the community.”
One of the most reassuring things was that Renee still had her job to return to when she recovered. She was told: “Come home to us when you are in good health.” Now in remission and starting to play volleyball again (one of her favourite pastimes), Renee couldn’t be happier to be back in Alice with her new promotion.
“I love my job … I still get a warm fuzzy feeling when I grant people loans,” she says. “The customers are great and I get a sense of excitement when I get to play a small part in helping build someone’s future.”
The local branch over the years has supported local businesses, organisations and charities. “I like that our branch gives back to the community and employs locals.”
“Being in a small town, there are so many opportunities. People are willing to be mentors and encourage you to step up.”
Renee is committed to the ongoing professional development of her staff. “I want to give back,” she says.
Renee’s can-do attitude is contagious and as I turn to leave, she encourages me to join her volleyball team: “Oh … and by the way, welcome to Alice.”
'Born & bred' Renee worked her way up to bank manager
By RACHEL McFADDEN