Cheryl D’Ambra’s banking career began 30 years ago, when she became a part-time teller in a Worcester bank. She worked her way up through many different positions – branch manager, mortgage originator and sales trainer among them – and joined Athol Savings Bank (ASB) in 1999 as a vice president of the retail division. “She infused life into the branches and invested herself in the growth and development of bank employees,” said Daniel Zona, ASB president.
Because bank products are often standard from institution to institution, it’s service that makes the difference. “The customer is what keeps us in business,” D’Ambra said. “We look at business not through our own lens but through the customer lens. … We treat them the way they want to be treated.”
D’Ambra developed the bank’s signature Save$um banking curriculum early in her tenure at ASB. The program is now held at five elementary schools and serves 2,100 students. It also holds $1 million in deposits and $1.6 million in CDs. Students learn real-life financial issues from bank staff as they serve their peers in school “branches.”
On the other end of the spectrum is the protection of the elderly from fraud. ASB holds presentations at senior centers, churches and the YMCA. In her role as security officer, D’Ambra is alert to the elder fraud problem, and endeavors to tell seniors that the stranger on the other end of the phone isn’t always on the up and up. The community has taken notice. “We’ve had customers come in and tell us, ‘What you do in the community is why we chose your bank,’” said D’Ambra.
D’Ambra is a motivational mentor to those who work for her, Zona added. Always one to drive with persistence and encouragement, she thrives most when seeing others succeed. “As well as always providing ongoing training to her employees, Cheryl also created and implemented a very successful sales culture within the bank, which involves goal assignments and a recognition program. She understands that happy, fulfilled employees provide a trickle effect to customers. And to Cheryl, that’s what it’s all about,” he said.