When it comes to navigating a career, Marianne DeSimone counsels her children and nieces to always give their best effort and build strong relationships — because you never know how things could turn out.

Marianne is living proof of her own advice. When she graduated from Penn State with a degree in finance, Marianne was thrilled to land her first job at a bank. The industry had always fascinated her, and she would spend the next several years working hard and honing her expertise at commercial and industrial lending, or C&I — comprising more complex loan products for commercial customers.

Along the way people took notice of her diligence and capabilities. Most notably, Peter Cahill, her boss at a mid-sized bank nearly two decades ago.

Marianne’s career would take her to financial institutions large and small. Mentors and managers alike taught her different aspect of the banking industry, from the art of salesmanship to critical risk analysis.

Eventually Marianne would leave the banking world to start a family — but at the time she didn’t realize just how far her connections and the impressions she made would carry her.

While raising her family and keeping up the demands of motherhood and a home, Marianne was still active in the working world, helping her family’s business with negotiations, financing, marketing, and more. It kept her skills sharp while still contributing to her family’s economic wellbeing.

When it came time to re-enter the job market Marianne reached out to some of her previous contacts — including Peter Cahill, now the chief lending officer at First Bank, an up-and-coming NJ community bank. Cahill didn’t lose any time; he not only remembered Marianne, but knew that her expertise in C&I would perfectly round out First Bank’s offerings and executive staff. She was hired immediately.

“The lesson to be learned is that if you work hard and make a good impression,” said Marianne, “even early in your career, it can have a lasting impact.”

Fast-forward three years, and Marianne DeSimone is a vice president/team leader for First Bank. She oversees a portfolio of more than $50 million, comprising businesses that range from medical device companies, to consultancies, non-profits, and many others. She still gives the job her all, and she always values the importance of building strong relationships.

Her position at First Bank allows Marianne to employ three of her natural strengths: the precision and thoroughness of a financial professional; the networking, customer-driven quality of a business development person; and her keen interest in understanding a wide scope of businesses and industries.

It’s all a familiar theme to this successful mom, executive, and community banker: When you work hard and invest in growing yourself and others, it’s amazing where things can take you.

#b#When Susan Paglione’s#/b# family arrived from Italy in the late 1960s, they moved into a house across the street from a Yardville Bank branch in Yardville. Susan, 16 at the time, didn’t speak English when she attended high school, but she did know one thing — she was keenly interested in the banking industry.

A few years later, as an American high school graduate now able to speak Italian, French, and English, she applied at the bank across from her parents’ home, where she was hired as a bank teller in 1971.

Through the years Susan attended college at night, raised a family, and worked diligently at her job. She rose through the proverbial ranks under the close mentorship of many people, but in particular, Yardville President and CEO Patrick M. Ryan for the past 20 years. His careful guidance and example taught Susan to always focus on the customer’s needs.

“Helping customers succeed is central to the community bank mentality,” Susan said. “Mr. Ryan was one of many who taught me that. In the community bank setting, it’s truly about personal service — from the tellers to the president. To this day I try to instill that in the people I work with.”

When Yardville Bank was sold to PNC Bank in 2007 Susan stayed on as a senior vice president. It was an excellent learning experience, but it didn’t offer the same culture as the community bank she came up in. One day, Susan’s former mentor, Patrick M. Ryan, and his son, Patrick L. Ryan, called with an opportunity. They were starting a new venture called First Bank. They needed someone with Susan’s extensive experience and outlook. She took the job, eager to get back to her community bank roots.

First Bank began with one branch in Williamstown in 2007, and with a reorganization in 2009 expanded to two branches in Mercer County. Under the skillful leadership of the Ryans, Susan, and others, the bank has grown to nine branches in New Jersey, with more to come.

Today Susan is First Bank’s first senior vice president of retail administration/business development. She oversees all daily branch operations, in addition to business development and representing the bank at community events and organizations. She serves on the boards of the Better Business Bureau of NJ and St. Lawrence Rehabilitation; attends MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce meetings; and volunteers for the American Cancer Society, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital at Hamilton; and many others.

It demands a lot of responsibility, energy, and time, but that’s something Susan welcomes.

“I take what I do personally, and I always have,” she said. “Community banking and leadership have two things in common: Maintain good relationships, and help people succeed. I’m very proud to be part of an organization that achieves both.”

First Bank, 2465 Kuser Road, Hamilton. 877-821-2265. www.firstbanknj.com.

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