Women Empowerment and Community Involvement Are at the Center of Heather Walsh’s Successful Career

May 9, 2021

Q: What is your Austin Habitat for Humanity History of Involvement?

A few years ago, our team at Merrill first participated in an all-day home build. It was an amazing, hands-on experience, and as we sawed wood and hung shingles, we realized that we could really make a difference in the lives of people in our community through volunteerism with Austin Habitat. Since then, we have participated actively with Habitat.

Q: What are ways you are helping the affordable housing crisis here in Austin?

A: Outside of my volunteerism with Austin Habitat, through Merrill’s wealth management program, we offer seminars and webinars to provide education and around investing, which allows people to save for the future and achieve their goals. These programs are available on our website. Bank of America is also committed to addressing this issue, whether it’s by helping to provide financing for affordable housing units for people to rent in Austin or to make the dream of homeownership possible for clients through programs like the Community Homeownership Commitment.

 

Heather Walsh and Bank of America on the Austin Habitat for Humanity Construction Site

Q: What advice did you receive when you were starting your career?

A: My father always told me that I could do anything that I put my mind to and that my gender should not define my opportunities. This support enabled me to chart my own path, and when I began my first job in a male-dominated industry, my manager advised me to visualize my success and take the necessary steps to get there. This enabled me to be confident and has inspired me throughout my whole career.

Q: What does women empowerment mean to you?

A: When I think of women empowerment, I can’t help but think of my two beautiful daughters. I want them to be treated better than I was treated, give them everything that I was never given, teach them more than I was taught and expect more of them than they would have ever expected of themselves. The same should apply for women across the world.

Q: What are you doing to further empower women?

A: I want to continue to hire and inspire women. Of the 134 employees I lead, 46 percent of them are women. The executive leadership team I lead at Merrill is 90% women, I am constantly supported by the women around me as we work together to achieve our shared goals for our clients. I’ve especially enjoyed being the Executive Sponsor for LEAD for Women, an employee network mentoring program that is dedicated to connecting, developing and elevating women to enable them to make meaningful contributions within our company and the communities we serve. The program is a testament to women supporting women, and I look forward to continuing our work in expanding personal networks, mentoring and sharing resources, and promoting a diverse and inclusive work environment that mirrors the clients and communities we serve.

Nikki Graham and Bank of America Join Forces with the Habitat Homeowner on the Austin Habitat Construction Site

Q: Do you have any last words of advice, encouragement, or hope?

A: Life is tough and change is hard, but just when you are ready to throw in the towel, that is often when breakthrough happens. I think we all need to hear that message right now. I also want to emphasize the importance of community involvement and getting involved with a network of strong women who can support each other!

 

Thank you to our Women Build Partners that help us build affordable housing!

 

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