A More Human Kind of Banking
“I am so fortunate because every day I get to help other people make positive changes in their lives.”
Ashley Carson’s perspective on her job might be surprising for the world of commercial banking, wherein the decision-making process, personal relationships can often be overshadowed by the financial demands of the business.
But Ashley doesn’t come from a traditional banking background. Before receiving her MBA from Emory’s Goizueta Business School, her focus was on the arts: “I was always fascinated with the business of art and first fell in love with the art auction world through an opportunity in high school where I was able to intern in the silver department at Christie’s, one of the world’s premier fine art auction houses.”
Majoring in Art History as an undergraduate at Northwestern University, she moved to New York City upon graduation to study American art at Sotheby’s art auction house. She then worked in the customer service department at Christie’s. Her experience living in New York City was challenging – she had a second job to supplement her income – but she reflects upon the experience as one of the defining moments in her life.
“Having a diverse professional background makes it easy for me to relate to people. I’ve had to work with so many different types of personalities throughout my career before I even became a banker. I understand what it truly means to take care of customers, because that’s what art auction houses do – they place a high value on the customer experience – but I also think that I’ve had so many unique life experiences that I’m able to meet people where they are and develop genuine relationships.”
When listening to Ashley talk about her job, it’s clear that her interest in people directly informs the work she does at Atlantic Capital. Her title is Executive Vice President, Corporate and Community Affairs Executive, a designation that, she says, means she “wears a lot of hats.” In addition to running the bank’s community development initiatives, she also oversees the marketing and corporate communications team, Atlanta private banking, not-for-profit, and business banking teams.
And while her position means occupying a diverse collection of roles, it’s her desire to build and maintain relationships that unifies what she does: “I realized you can earn the trust of almost anyone if they realize you’re doing your very best to sincerely help them. I live by kindness and truly enjoy helping people wherever I can.”
Ashley’s passion for helping people is something she’s brought to Atlantic Capital from the start when she began working for the bank almost 12 years ago.
“When I was recruited over, I said, ‘I want to start a not-for-profit banking team. And we’re going to figure out how we can provide really good banking services to the not-for-profit community in Atlanta.’ I worked hard to grow our nonprofit portfolio one cold call and one customer at a time. It was tough work, but has been so rewarding.”
To see where nonprofit banking is today at Atlantic Capital is impressive: They have over 100 clients, making it one of the largest portfolios on the commercial side of the bank. And it all started with Ashley’s vision and determination: “When I look back over my 11 years at the bank, I think I’m most proud of building a portfolio that has generated significant profitability for the bank and that has changed the lives of people in Atlanta. I feel lucky to have a career aligned with my own ethos and passions.”
Importantly, the culture of giving back at Atlantic Capital goes beyond just the bank’s work with nonprofit organizations. It also runs right through the company itself, with employees regularly maintaining an active presence in community work across Atlanta.
And Ashley fully appreciates working for a company that values helping people just as much as she does: “My authenticity is very important to me. I sell with my heart, and I can only sell something that I truly believe in. With Atlantic Capital, I’m really grateful for them letting me explore and design this side of the business. I feel like I can add value just by being myself.”
Fun Facts About Ashley:
If you weren’t working at Atlantic Capital, what would you be doing?
I honestly can’t imagine doing anything other than my own job. I love working at Atlantic Capital.
Hobbies outside of work?
Running, reading, raising my children (both human and animal). People are surprised that I am a bit of an introvert. I do sometimes get to the end of the day and need to spend time alone and have some introspection.
I have a really diverse taste in music. My son is a jazz drummer. I love to go to his gigs and listen to live music around Atlanta.
Anyone who knows me really well knows that I love animals. I would even say I’m kind of an animal whisperer. I have three cats and a two-year-old vizsla that I run with as much as I can in my neighborhood. We are frequently spotted at the Piedmont Park dog park.