A fearless drive leads EHS alum to success
Sioux City, Iowa – SCCSD East High School alum Niki Stotler had just graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in sociology in 2001, was working for a rafting company, and living in a tent in Colorado when she applied for a mortgage loan processor job on a whim.
“I saw it as something fun to do while I figured out what I wanted to do next. I had no loan experience and no banking experience. Openly, I even stated those two facts when I was offered the job,” recalls Niki, daughter of Rich and Holly Wright of Sioux City. “Thankfully, they hired me anyway.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
Recently, Niki was promoted to Chief Operating Officer/Salida Market President for High Country Bank in Salida, Colorado. It is an opportunity Niki credits to a combination of empathy, humility, and a bit of fearlessness.
“I was lucky to find something that I was passionate about – I truly love what I do. I worked my tail off and never let lack of experience get in my way of trying something new,” says Niki. “It’s amazing what can happen when you open yourself up to the ideas and thought processes of those around you. It can be scary and challenging, but that fear pushes me harder to succeed.”
Niki’s drive to success started as a student in the Sioux City Community School District. A Washington Elementary School and Nodland Elementary School student, Niki attended East Middle School before graduating from East High School in 1997. Right after graduation, she joined classmates for a performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City under the direction of East High School choir director Paula Keeler. It is an experience that she will never forget.
“It’s incredible to look back on it now and realize how lucky we were to have as high caliber of an instructor as Mrs. Keeler available to us and to learn from. She led a first-class music program at East High and took it to the next level,” says Niki. “She was a perfectionist who allowed no room for error and pushed us all to be better all the time.”
To this day, Nikki says the caliber of education offered through the District is second to none.
“Sioux City Community Schools holds their students to a higher standard. I always felt like failure was not an option and that is something that has stuck with me throughout my life,” adds Niki.
Today, when she is not working, Niki relishes her time with family: husband Danny and daughters Nola and Rilynn. She has also realized the importance of taking time for herself. One year ago, Niki started running a mile at least every single morning.
“It has become a non-negotiable for me and really helps set the tone for the day. At the end of every day, no matter how crazy things have been, I can look back and know I did one thing for myself.”
Niki is also enjoying her new role at High Country Bank. In a recent letter to employees, she encouraged team members to step outside of their comfort zone – something that may be the secret to her professional success at the bank.
“It’s easy to underestimate what each of us can do to make things happen and overestimate what others need to do to move us forward. It takes every single one of us to go from good to great.”