KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tonika Brockman faced challenges climbing the corporate ladder. She overcame those challenges through education, getting creative and being client-centered.
Now, Brockman is Liberty Bank's Regional Vice President for all of Kansas and Missouri. It's a career she calls her purpose.
"I decided that I wanted to come to Liberty Bank last March at the height of the Black Lives Matter Movement. From a personal standpoint, it became very disheartening as I moved up in the ranks of banking and supported a more affluent clientele that there was no minority in my book of business," Brockman said.
"I wanted to help more people of color, move up into that affluent, or private banking or wealth management arena," she said.
Her desire to help stems from her personal challenges and she's not shy about sharing her story.
"I was in college. I was an English major. I wanted to be a lawyer and I got pregnant at 19 and my grandmother said, 'You better learn about money real quick and you better figure it out.' And literally, I changed major to finance," Brockman said.
Her first job in banking was at a call center. She did not earn enough money to pay the bills.
"Wanting to understand and get a better place for my son and ultimately my children, that drove me to say 'How do I start being strategic about starting a career path in this industry?'" Brockman said.
She earned her undergraduate degree in business and finance and her master's degree in business, but she still struggled to get customers to trust that she was capable of helping them achieve their financial goals. As a Black woman, Brockman said that was one of the biggest hurdles she faced.
She was frustrated but refused to quit.
"How can I show you that I can help you with your money, being a minority woman and also young," Brockman said.
She said she got creative.
"To eliminate the race barrier, I added value," Brockman said. "What that looked like is when you're coming in to get anything banking, I provided a team for you."
She provided her clients with tax strategists, accountants and attorneys. Her clients loved it and loved her. That's when she said her career started skyrocketing to the top.
Now, Brockman is mentoring other women in banking.
"In our industry there is a huge ambition gap because we are so under-represented we don't even think about 'Gosh, I really could do this.' And not just 'I could do it,' but 'I need to do it. I need to move up,'" she said.
Brockman is enjoying her success with her husband and 5 children, but she's also still increasing her value.
Brockman is working on her doctorate in business and organizational leadership; focused on making a difference for her family, her clients and the greater Kansas City community.