For more than thirty years, Sheila Spangler has worked her way up the ranks in the banking industry, from receptionist to vice president of commercial lending and business owner. But though she attained success at every level, she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing: her college degree.
Spangler took classes at Boise State University for seven years, working full time and attending school part-time until she achieved junior-level status. But in 1985, she decided to put her degree on hold to focus on her career, a decision that had been on her mind ever since.
“Even though [my work] gave me all this knowledge and experience, it just bugged me that I didn’t have that degree,” she says.
So, in 2012, she re-enrolled at Boise State and finished the classes left to earn her bachelor’s degree while still working full-time. Last year, 30 years after putting her degree on the back burner, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in multidisciplinary studies, with a minor in communication.
“Quite honestly, that is probably my most proud accomplishment,” she says.
But Spangler has many more things to be proud of: she’s a highly sought-after finance professional, speaker and leader who has helped countless business owners succeed. She also completed a grueling master’s-level program at the prestigious Pacific Coast Banking School at the University of Washington in 2000.
Today, after recently leaving a role as vice president of business banking at Idaho First Bank, Spangler is restarting her consulting business, Capital Strategies, where she guides business owners through the process of obtaining funding for their companies.
As she looks back on her career thus far, there is one project that is particularly close to her heart: In 2011, she helped start the Women’s Business Center of Idaho, a grant-funded organization that helps disadvantaged women start and manage their businesses. It didn’t take long before the center was overwhelmed with clients, and Spangler and her right-hand woman Karen Appelgren were running at full bore to set processes for the center, develop strategy, and keep community support and grant funds coming in.
“That was truly a labor of love,” she says.
In 2013, Spangler used a similar model to create the Business Resource Center at Zion’s Bank, where she and Appelgren provided financial consultations and resources to existing and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Spangler says she loves the process of helping business owners succeed because they inspire her with the risks they take and their ability to make things happen.
“They have a unique idea and want to share that with the world,” she says. “My skill is helping them get the capital and helping them negotiate with the lender to get things done.”
Though today she is a savvy business builder, Spangler says she grew up wanting to be a writer. Her path only changed when a neighbor told her she would never make any money.
“It was like, smash, dream killer,” she says.
After that, she decided to be practical and study business, but her creativity never died. She published an essay last year about the Boise River waterfront district in a BSU book River by Design, and publishes posts on LinkedIn about leadership and business strategy.
Spangler also enjoys public speaking, and has given presentations on starting businesses and negotiation at the annual Smart Women, Smart Money conference put on by the Idaho State Treasurer’s office. In 2013, she gave a keynote address at Idaho’s Empowering Women Conference.
“I love being able to share knowledge and help people learn to get what they want,” she says.
At home, Spangler enjoys working in the garden and going on walks with her partner of 14 years, Mike Jones.
“We both put a lot of ourselves into what we do during the week, so we like to chill out on the weekends if we can,” she says.