Alumni / October 26, 2021

Knowing How the Pieces – and the Data – Fit

Nadine Payne, MBA ’15

Nadine Payne

Nadine Payne, MBA ’15, believes understanding complex business problems means understanding how the pieces all fit together, studying, and assessing their functions.

This need to completely understand processes underpins the way she approaches her role as senior vice president for risk governance and controls within the Global Commercial Lending Management team at Citi Commercial Bank. In her role, she is often asked to learn something completely new, to evaluate potential risks and fashion recommendations that ensure successful execution of management decisions.

She began her career as an attorney. “It was a great opportunity to understand the workings of the country in a unique way, and it certainly informed my view of how the world works,” she says. Over time, she realized she wanted to pursue a career in business and began looking for opportunities to grow her skills in that direction. The work done by Maryland Smith’s Center for Social Value Creation drew her to the school, and its MBA program. “I was inspired by the center and I wanted to learn how the business world could use traditional economic capital structures to create social good.”

Payne says Smith taught her valuable, hard skills and helped her to better define and lean into her soft skills. Her time at Smith was also key in that it taught her  that perseverance is itself a talent. “Being able to find resolve in the face of obstacles was a really important lesson,” she says.

She credits her time at Smith with creating opportunities for her to give back. She has held many roles in the Smith New York Alumni chapter, which allowed her to work directly with the program as an active member of the business community. More and more, she continues to look for opportunities to advise young professionals, as well as past and current Smith students.

She encourages Smith students to reach out to alums across their networks when considering a job at a particular organization. “They’re best positioned to tell you what it’s really like to work there,” she says. “Members of your network, who have experience at these organizations, are a key resource in understanding whether that business fully embodies the values that you have identified as important in a prospective employer.”  

Payne also encourages students to lean in technology and data, irrespective of their target industry. “You should not underestimate the value and volume of technology and data required to make that business, and more importantly, your future role within that organization, successful,” she says.

She encourages Smith students to “fully understand and embrace” the importance of technology and data management. “No matter your title, it’s likely that a key component of your role will require a critical understanding of the ways data and technology will transform your industry and how that will impact your businesses’ value to customers and clients,” she says.  

“Even when the marquis reads ‘bank,’ organizations create, transact and manage data. And it’s important to understand the risks associated with that.”

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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