Kathy Callen is the community engagement officer for Old National Bank in downtown Fort Wayne. She worked in the banking industry for many years, then took a 20 year hiatus to raise her family. Now, at age 59, she has reentered the workforce and is an inspiration to women of all ages because of her honesty, professionalism and genuine commitment to her family, friends and community.
My career path has come full circle. My parents were with Indiana Bank, where my dad was the president, so I grew up in the banking environment. Because of that influence, I majored in finance and took all business classes at Indiana University. After graduating, I moved to Cincinnati to work for a bank in the commercial credit department. I enjoyed it but realized I should further my education, so I obtained my MBA from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
In Fort Wayne, I worked for Indiana Bank in the trust department, which I liked because the bank was family-oriented and I watched my dad work and saw how he interacted with everyone. It was such a privilege.
I then decided to stay home to raise my children. I was an active volunteer with my children’s schools and community organizations, but I was out of the workforce for 20 years. When I found myself getting restless, I accepted a job opportunity here at Old National. I was so terrified of reentering the workforce, but here I am at my age with a new job! This has been such a great experience.
My dad and I were very close. I watched him work and saw how he did things kindly and respectfully. He was approachable and friendly, methodical about details—but it was his way with people that I so admire in a successful person.
My mom was very important to me as well. She taught me the value of girlfriends and the importance of supporting your partner. Like dad, she had a strong work ethic.
And my husband is a wonderful guy. He grounds me and that’s important. He’s been a great influence.
There’s also my best friend of 40 years who encouraged me to take this job. She makes me think differently—much more compassionately.
And my kids. They’ve been challenging at times, but they have definitely taught me things.
For me, success in life and business is intertwined. Success depends on being kind, honest, grateful and feeling a responsibility to give back. We all have an obligation to make a difference in someone’s life—a kindness I showed by building a loving and respectful family perhaps. That to me is success. Gratitude is so important. I feel a responsibility and a joy to do good things.
I would advise my daughters to always be self-sufficient and self-assured. I wish I’d always kept my toe in the work force because, if you don’t, you lose your confidence very quickly. I want them to have more confidence at this point in their lives than I do. And, do what you love. Restlessness can zap you if you feel like you’re not contributing. Getting back into the workforce was scary, but very energizing at the same time.
I am so different than I was years ago. As I’ve gotten older, I have mellowed and become more accepting and less judgmental. You realize how quickly life can change and that it is so fleeting. I try to stop and be grateful for everything. The other thing I’ve learned is the power of kindness and how important small acts can be. Lastly, it’s important to be adaptable and flexible: Life has many surprises and change is constant.