Liz Hefler reached a bit of a crossroads during her time as an economics major at the University of Virginia.
Like many of her classmates, Hefler strongly considered working in the investment sector after graduation. But, a less-than-ideal internship experience made her question that career path and wonder what was next.
“My parents wanted me to come back to New Orleans and encouraged me to pursue a career in traditional finance,” she recalled. “I followed that advice and started at Hancock Whitney right after I graduated. At the time, I thought I would eventually leave to work in a different industry. But, at Hancock Whitney, I was surrounded by a great group of mentors and teammates, plus clients who were entertaining and fun. Twenty years later, I’m still here and I still love it.”
Last year, Hefler was named Hancock Whitney’s regional president for greater New Orleans, where she leads the institution’s commercial, middle market and corporate banking growth and strategy in the region. Prior to her promotion, Hefler served as a middle market banker and team lead. Beginning in 2015, she led an expanded corporate, middle market and commercial banking team.
“I was fortunate to work for Gary Lorio, who was in this role before me. He has been a true mentor,” Hefler said. “I was able to step into a great culture with a great group of folks who understand what they are doing and put service above everything else. It was also a great opportunity to continue to become even more rooted in New Orleans. Previously, I worked with about half the market, so this job allows me to learn about a different set of clients. There’s still more learning to do, but that keeps me excited about the work.”
During her career, Hefler has worked closely with New Orleans clients in multiple sectors, including those in the maritime industry, grocery stores, restaurant groups, transportation companies, and those that work in conjunction with local hospitality and tourism. She and her team have helped these companies navigate challenges such as financial crises as well as advances in areas like technology. But, Hefler said one aspect of her work that has not changed is the fact that relationships with people and getting an in-person view of a business can provide beneficial insights.
“One of the things I enjoy the most and I think everyone in commercial banking should do is to visit your clients’ offices or work sites and get a real sense of the culture of the business,” Hefler said. “Are there customer cars in the parking lot? Is equipment sitting on the lot instead of being in use? The numbers on a spreadsheet don’t always give you the full picture of how a company thrives and operates. When you go to their business, it helps you better understand what they really need and how you can help them.”
While Hefler’s work keeps her out and about in New Orleans, so do her personal commitments to her family and community. As the mother of three young children, she spends plenty of time at their schools and extracurricular activities. She also loves exposing them to everything New Orleans has to offer, so family trips to parades, restaurants, museums and parks are part of her regular routine.
“I love the city and I love that so many places are kid-friendly and not stuffy,” she said. “I don’t sit at home that much. We love to eat out and explore different places.”
In addition, Hefler serves on the boards of the Stuart Hall School for Boys, Ascension DePaul Services of New Orleans, Louisiana Children’s Museum and New Orleans Museum of Art. She recently began working closely with GNO, Inc.’s research arm and will join two new boards beginning in March.
“The idea of community service is something that I grew up with in the home. My parents were always volunteering, so that was instilled in me from a young age,” Hefler said. “That concept has continued here at Hancock Whitney. The bank has always allowed employees to have the time to serve the community and help address needs in the city. I’m really proud to be a part of that.”
The “She Is” campaign is a partnership between Hancock Whitney and The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate, The Advocate and The Acadiana Advocate to curate and share stories about women who are thriving – what motivates them, how they motivate others, and how women can continue to drive impact. Visit www.hancockwhitney.com/she-is for more details on Hancock Whitney’s ongoing work with female leaders and to share your own favorite “She Is” story.