Writer Lara Piu
Deborah Bateman takes one last review of BAM before departing. BAM is the 40-foot recreational vehicle she shares with her husband, Tim.
“Luggage: Check! Groceries: Check! Costco haul: Check! Laptop and phone chargers: Check!” she chirps.
BAM is filled with everything they need for a somewhat impromptu six-month Americana adventure-of-a-lifetime road trip from Phoenix to Yellowstone National Park, the Pacific Northwest and Minnesota.
The trip is the culmination of her life story. The National Bank of Arizona vice chairman of the board of directors, author, speaker, blogger, and life coach has an illustrious 46-year banking career and a thought-provoking back story that begins at the end of her marriage and life in Arizona. That’s when she relocated to New York for her career, amicably leaving her husband of 20 years behind.
Working from the 47th floor on Park Avenue in Manhattan, she recalls, was “exciting and you felt accomplished.”
On one side of her bird’s-eye city view was the Empire State Building, and on the other, the Chrysler Building. Somewhere in between, the World Trade Center stood tall only a year earlier — a reminder of life’s worth and the people she left behind.
“I think 9/11 made everyone stop and reassess, and I think going to New York where the scar was so incredibly deep affected me, too,” Deborah recalls. “I thought, ‚What have I done?’ and questioned the decisions I was making, what was ruling my life, and why was I doing this.”
After a year of living in the Big Apple, Deborah wanted to fill her life back up with the things that made her heart sing — things that spoke to her relationship-oriented character. Sitting behind a computer screen manipulating data, spread sheets, power point presentations, and writing reports for 10 hours a day would no longer do.
“Really and truly, that is not who I am,” she explains. “Can I do it? Yes, I can. But I much prefer to be face to face with a client and expanding the relationship and doing something where I could recognize the impact I was having and the value I was creating.”
That’s when the second-generation Valley native returned to her husband and her community in Phoenix.
“I had a self-awareness moment and I knew that I wanted to be back here. I enjoyed my role in the bank but I wanted to be part of the community also,” she says. “I had kind of surrendered my soul and allowed my employer to direct my career, as opposed to me directing my career.”
National Bank of Arizona, a mid-sized bank, was a better fit.
“It was perfect for me because it allowed me to re-engage with the customer, and be able to feel my value and know I was making a difference, and it was an organization that believed in being part of the community,” Deborah says.
Since then, the bank has sponsored 12 years of Deborah’s leadership and work to make a difference in the Valley. And what a difference she’s made.
Currently, she serves on the board of directors for the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute, Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, Phoenix Suns Charities, Arizona Historical Society at Papago Park, and the Advisory Boards for Mesa Community College, Foundation for Living Medicine, and AZ Business Angels magazine. Deborah is a member of the Go Red for Women executive leadership team for American Heart Association, Charter 100, and American Heart Association’s Phoenix Heart Ball committee. In addition, she is featured columnist for SmartFem.com, and a popular charity gala and event chairperson. She serves on the Phoenix Steering Committee for 20/20 Women on Board, an organization that’s been promoting that all boards be comprised of at least 20 percent women — a feat that the organization is very near to accomplishing.
“The whole alliance with National Bank of Arizona has been the highlight of my career,” Deborah explains. “You know, at one time I was trying to validate who I was and what I could do, but when I went to work for National Bank of Arizona I had a very good sense of who I was and the value I could bring. I also knew what my personal beliefs and core values were.”
Now she shares those lessons on self-awareness and self-value as a coach and keynote speaker. She shows others how to understand who they are, what their strengths are, and how to leverage those strengths to accomplish what they want in life.
“I think women, in particular, were raised to please,” she explains. “There’s a point in time where you need to know why you do what you do, who you are, the gifts you have to offer, and how to leverage those gifts.”
And she should know. She’s come a long way baby — both inside and out — since her first job as a bank teller.
“It was a different time and a different era. I began in a period of time when women began to come into their own,” she recalls. “As I look back, I continually raised my hand for more responsibilities, and one thing lead to another.”
As she packs up BAM for the cross-country trip, she is simply continuing her search of self, and yet another adventure in her life story.
“Each of us has two life stories: There is the one that we have lived up to this moment, and then there is the one that we have yet to live,” she writes on her blog, Risk Blossoming. “Now I am living the life I want to live. Without a doubt.”