Ten Leaders to Know: Kelly Barrick (Full Profile)

August 14, 2023 | Ten Leaders to Know

Managing Director, CIBC Mid-Corporate


Birth City
Halbur, Iowa

Current City
Johnston, Iowa

How did you get where you are today?
My journey, spanning over 20 years in the banking and finance industry, began as a teller while I was in college. I gradually moved into bigger roles in personal banking and commercial banking, which provided me with a solid foundation in the sector and taught me customer interaction. However, my thirst for knowledge and growth led me to explore other opportunities. I took a leap and spent a decade in an equipment finance role with GE Capital, where I immersed myself in their training, honed my skills and built invaluable relationships. Seven years ago, while assessing my next steps, I reached out to my network once again and excitingly made my way back into banking, specializing in middle market lending and eventually transitioning into mid-corporate lending. Looking back, my interest in finance can be traced to the childhood experiences my parents provided me, my grandmother working at the small bank in my hometown, and the guidance of my college professors who nurtured my curiosity and helped me build relationships in the business world. It wasn’t just my personal drive that propelled me forward, but also the incredible support of my husband along with many other Iowa leaders, who continuously inspired me, were available to meet and allowed me to be a resource to them. Each directly or indirectly teaching me more than I knew along the way.

What excites you the most about the business you work in?
What really gets me excited about banking is the chance to collaborate and form genuine connections with the businesses in each community. It goes beyond just a transaction for me. I love hearing the stories of the founders and learning about the strategic goals of the management team. It’s about more than the business; it’s about the people and the relationships. I enjoy listening to what’s working well for them and figuring out how I can fit in to truly be a valuable part of their team. As their trusted advisor, it brings me great joy to help them with financing while also collaborating along side of them to refer other business experts who will also support them in achieving their ambitions.

What do you see as the next big trend in your industry?
While I expect the future will remain rooted in solid relationships, I also expect we will see an increase in AI and technology advancements. Each will continue to push our industry in new ways to provide customers with even better seamless on and off-online experiences, and innovative deal structures/products.

Where do you look for inspiration or to generate new ideas?
I primarily rely on networking, people interaction helps me thrive! The great events put on by ABI around the state, and onsite-tours of my clients’ businesses are examples of this inspiration. These relationships allow me to gain valuable perspectives that tend to spark innovative ideas. Personally, when I seek clarity and a fresh perspective, I find that being in nature is my outlet. Taking a walk or immersing myself in any type of outdoor environment helps me think outside of the box and reset.

What does effective leadership mean to you?
An effective leader communicates well, motivates the team and provides a clear vision, empowering each team member in his/her role to find a successful path.

What is your favorite thing about Iowa?
What I love about Iowa is the genuine and welcoming nature of its people. Growing up in rural Iowa and now living in Des Moines, I have experienced firsthand the hard work ethic and kindness of the people. During my time in Leadership Iowa, I was amazed by the character and hidden gems in each community. Whether via a casual coffee meeting or a series of discussions, Iowa leaders collaborate and give of their time to build authentic relationships. Beyond the known agriculture, Iowa also offers diverse opportunities within community celebrations, outdoor adventures and tours of industries like manufacturing and food processing. It’s the mix of the people and places that gives my family and me an amazing quality of life.

What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
There are a few things I would tell my younger self: Be confident and follow your passions. Creating your own happiness is crucial. Don't let fear of what other people think hold you back. Take risks, it's ok to experience failures along your journeys, but be sure to learn from them and use them as opportunities for growth. Build and invest in true relationships, quality over quantity as these friendships in life will tie back to your happiness (and sanity)! Lastly, don’t rush through life, but instead take the time to truly enjoy each moment, and always keep smiling.

Why are you a member of ABI?
Being a part of ABI is an instant uplift to relationship building and insights into Iowa’s business community. It has not only helped me enhance by professional network, develop new clients and leverage referral sources, but I’ve also built lifelong friends who continue to mentor me. It has further allowed me to introduce businesses to each other for collaboration, contracting orders or simply sharing peer best practices.

Who do you look to for mentorship?
I rely on a personal Board of Directors—my husband, family, friends, and industry professionals— who hold me accountable to growth. These selected mentors each with diverse perspectives and experiences provide guidance and support in specific areas as I work to achieve my goals.

As a business leader, what book would you recommend for personal or professional growth?
I have really enjoyed reading “Mindset” by Carol Dweck, which explores the concept of ‘mindset’ and how our beliefs about our abilities can impact our success. It’s so insightful that it’s one of the few books I have actually re-read it. The first time I read it to sharpen my leadership skills and after I had my children, I read it again and gained a different perspective. It is truly a game-changer for anyone looking to grow personally or professionally.