Bernadette Mueller
Executive Chief CSR-CRA Officer

Bernadette Mueller

1)     How did you get involved in your current career?

I was a full-time student at NYU and working part-time at Citibank when I was accepted to law school. I was on my way, until a senior executive at Citibank recruited me and asked me to join Citi’s corporate management training and credit program. I deferred my admission to law school for a year and my banking career began.  At Citibank, I held many management positions, spanning from lending to private banking and retail management.  One of of my lending roles was working with large and national non-profit organizations to provide customized lending and treasury solutions. This role was very rewarding because I could see first-hand how my role as a banker impacted our clients. After a gratifying career at Citibank, I joined Valley and have held business positions in various lines of business, most recently as Head of Corporate Social Responsibility – CRA.

2)   Who/What inspired you in your career?

My parents were both very influential and supportive of me. My mother was not a career woman per se, but she did work after my siblings and I were in school. More importantly, she was very civic minded and pursued causes that were important to her, while still managing an active household. Although I was too young to understand the importance of her civic actions, I now look back and admire the strength and determination she had, especially for a woman in the 1960’s. My Dad was a businessman, and as a child in the morning before work and school, we would read the Wall Street Journal together. He taught me the importance of remaining well informed about the happenings in the business world. In our discussions over the years, my dad advised me that as managers, it was not the job to be loved by everyone; however, a manager’s responsibility is to treat everyone fairly, honestly and with respect. It may not always be easy, but is the right thing to do.

In addition to my parents, I have had many male and female executive level professional mentors who have coached and advised me throughout my career. It’s important to align yourself with people that you respect personally and professionally. While life is about learning, you don’t always have to learn from your own mistakes. You can learn from the experience of others.

3) How do you remain productive while managing your professional responsibilities?

There are several important ingredients to success; the first of which is hard work. Most people can’t grow their careers successfully without putting in the time and dedication. In addition, you must be ethical. Without ethics and the ability to do the right thing, your reputation will be marred and your integrity is questionable. It’s difficult to achieve success when those around you don’t trust you. Always look to develop, promote and engage your staff and colleagues. Without their accomplishments there is no success.

I also believe it’s important to make the best of every situation. You cannot control what other people do or the circumstances you find yourself in at times, but you can control how you react. Your response to uncomfortable or unfavorable situations defines your character. You can go through tough times and still come through with dignity if you act with integrity, intelligence and determination.

4)     What is the most critical issue facing our community?

Small businesses, individuals and families in our communities are struggling and need assistance with affordable homes, wage stagnation, financial literacy and workforce development.  We need to invest in housing and community development to create jobs, homes and provide valued services and support the neighborhoods we serve to develop economic growth. Investment in infrastructure development can also increase economic development. Providing technical assistance and educational programs will improve the impact and success of the community as well.

5)     What is your favorite place to visit in the community?

I happen to love to visit and walk through Grand Central Terminal in New York City.  There’s an excitement and energy there that makes it a special experience each time I visit. Its history is a story of vast means and great engineering, but also of endurance and revival.

6)     Can you tell us something that may surprise us?

I am the mother to 2 millennials on each side of the spectrum and am an avid music lover.  My family has made their own wine for over 30 years.

7)     Why Valley?

This is a very exciting time for Valley and I am so pleased to be a part of it. We have an energized leadership team with a vision of where the organization needs to be and we are thinking outside of the box. The Bank is evolving rapidly and is prioritizing the customer experience through investment in our people, technology and training. We are expanding our community partnerships and leveraging those relationships to bring enhanced value to Valley and our employees across many platforms.