Women Worth Watching 2015

Dorinda Smith

Saying Yes to a New Challenge Revealed This SunTrust EVP’s True Calling


web SunTrust_SmithDorinda Smith joined SunTrust more than 25 years ago, and has held roles of increasing responsibility during her tenure with the company. She served in several operational leadership roles, guiding the business through an enormous transformation. But, as she describes it, she never really knew what her calling was until she was asked in 2013 to lead a sales channel. Since accepting the role of EVP and Correspondent Production Manager, Dorinda has introduced the new and fast-growing, non-delegated division and, in 2014, delivered more than $8.5 billion in production, working with nearly 600 correspondent clients.

“Believe in the possibility of you.”

Recently, Dorinda led a professional development session for the company’s Women’s Teammate Network and shared her list of the “Top Things I’ve Learned.” Among the highlights were the following:

Change equals opportunity; know your strengths; love your job; have fun at work; learn every day; let go—things are not always going to go your way; learn what you need to learn from even the bad times and move on; be grateful; listening is power; be bold; and take action quicker’ don’t wait for life to hand you something—grab it; don’t wait for your employer to hand you the perfect career—go after it; talk with a lot of people about what you want to do—spend time with the person who has the job you want.

“If you only take one piece of advice from this, make it: ‘Believe in the possibility of you,’” said Dorinda. “It’s the career advice I’d give my former self.”

Her passionate advocacy for her clients, her team, and the professionals she mentors make her one of the most dynamic leaders from one of America’s top mortgage lenders. And she takes that can-do approach into the community as a volunteer with Junior Achievement and the YWCA.

Education: BA, University of Memphis

First Job: Market Research Analyst

What I’m Reading: “Strengths Based Leadership” by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie


The most important quality a woman leader should have is…

…to be a good listener. That skill alone makes clients (and bosses) know they are important. It is amazing the useful Information one can glean in conversation that keeps our efforts on point. Women have to juggle a lot of priorities; careful listening makes sure we focus on the right ones.

The career advice I’d give my former self:

Believe in the possibility of you. Know your strengths as well as the strengths of your team, and leverage those strengths to accomplish aspirational goals.

Words I live by:

I am grateful to work with people I love, doing fulfilling work.

The one thing I’d do differently in my career, knowing what I know now, is…

…be bold. I tell young women daily to determine what you want and to go after it with all you have. The worst thing that can happen is that you will get a no.

When I really need to focus on a project, I…

…eat chocolate? Actually, I work best early in the morning before the email barrage begins. It feels so good to get in a zone and knock a project out.

My biggest career leap (and what I learned from it) was…

…moving into my current role as the head of the sales& distribution channel. I learned that I love balancing sales and operations and putting together a high performing team.

Being a woman in my profession has been…

…rewarding at times and challenging at times. I get frustrated with myself for self-imposed limitations. Mortgage was historically a male dominated Industry; women were relegated to operations positions. I was late in determining I could be a captain rather than a lieutenant.

I’ve learned that failure is…

…the best way to learn. I cannot recommend deliberately setting out to fail, but when I do, and after I quit beating myself up, I learn a lot about myself as well as what led to the failure.

I maintain a healthy personal life by…

…eating chocolate? Seriously, I try to walk 25 miles a week beginning at 5 am. It gets oxygen to my brain and lets me begin my day hitting on all cylinders.

I knew my present career was what I wanted to do when…

…I took a brief hiatus and assumed a role in technology nine years ago. I found I missed the fast pace and multiple priorities of a production environment. I also realized I was a “techno-tard” and needed to work somewhere my teammates used words and acronyms I understood. Who knew an oven was an appliance used for anything other than cooking?