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Toni Nielsen, 2019 Excellence in Finance

Toni Nielsen

Western Idaho region president,

Zions Bank

Photo by Pete Grady.

It’s Thursday morning. By 10 a.m.,Toni Nielsen, who had just the night before returned from a business trip for Zions Bank, joined a conference call, kept her two meetings, and found out that, due to a hurricane, she would have to get to Tallahassee to see the Boise State Broncos play the Florida State Seminoles.

Nielsen’s love and dedication to the Boise State Broncos led her to become a member of the Broncos Advisory Association, a group that helps raise funds for the team.

“There are so many awesome student athletes at Boise State,” says Nielsen. “I think sports and business have a lot in common,” adding that college athletes have to learn skills of prioritization, responsibility, accountability and self-motivation.

“At the end of the day they’ve got to get up, they have to go to practice, they’ve got to study, they’ve got to fit all these things in to a typical day and that’s very much how business leaders have to work,” she says.

A leadership role at Zions Bank

Nielsen was drawn to banking around the age of 14, when she worked at a mall bakery. One of her tasks every day was to deliver the deposits to a bank in the mall.

“I always felt like when I went there that everyone was so nice and it was a professional environment,” says Nielsen.

Nielsen’s home life motivated her to go to college. Her mother, who had a high school education, worked several jobs to make ends meet for most of Nielsen’s childhood.

At age 9, Nielsen and her mother went to visit her grand-mother after her grandfather died. There she stayed.

“I think my mom’s idea was ‘go and live with grandma and probably after the summer we’ll convince her to move to Florida,’” says Nielsen.

She stayed in Indiana and before she knew it, she was graduating from college.

“My grandmother raised me as a single parent,” says Nielsen. “I think that’s where I really got a lot of my inspiration and motivation in terms of my work ethic, sticktoitive-ness and my confidence and believing that you can do anything you set your mind to kind of an attitude, and my positivity and optimism, I learned all of that from my grandmother.”

Now, Nielsen is the Western Idaho region president for Zions Bank and the face of the bank for Idaho. To start the week, she likes to identify recent successes and share them with other employees, along with congratulations.

“Then I really try to get zeroed in on (the) gaps, so that we can stay focused,” says Nielsen. “I spend a lot of time coaching and mentoring other bankers, teaching them about different things — banking specifically as well as relationship building and how to deal with people, how to coach and lead others.”

The digital version of Excellence in Finance 2020 is available for free download.

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