FORT LEE, N.J. — President and Chief Executive Operator of Bank of New Jersey Nancy Graves is uniquely one of three female CEOs in the New Jersey area, but she doesn't view herself in that lens.
"I think less about being a woman than others may," Graves said.
"I’m not successful because I’m a woman, I think I’m the best qualified person."
With more 20 years of experience in the financial world, 13 of those years within New Jersey, Graves has had an abundance of career experience before accepting her position at the Fort Lee headquartered bank.
Bank of New Jersey has locations in Haworth, Hackensack, Englewood, Englewood and Woodcliff Lake.
Graves now lives in Edgewater and said her approach to banking locally is by creating substantial relationships with business owners in the local towns.
"Our deposits come from this area and we lend in this area as opposed to a national bank that works all over the country," Graves said.
Her local focus allows more time to examine what's unique about specific neighborhoods and who potential business owners might be. For example, the bank has loaned approximately $60 million to Asian business owners due to Bergen County's high Asian population.
Graves explained that the bank prefers to meet with business owners and formulate a relationship rather than having one meeting before underwriting a loan.
"I think [our approach is] materially different from national banks and other banks," Graves said.
In a leadership capacity, Graves also tries to be different from other banks and corporations. Describing her difficulties rising through the ranks as a single mother in the demanding financial world, she said she wants to provide a more cooperative work culture.
"I try to create a culture that people feel as I do, that family comes first," Graves said.
Despite the unique roadblocks she had to overcome on her journey to becoming a CEO, Graves feels the combined experience is what makes her the most qualified candidate for her position.
"I think that all goes into the lens of how I see things and try to create an environment," Graves said. "There’s a lot of things you learn [and say] 'When I’m in charge I’m not going to do that.'"