Yuvonne Watt was inducted this week into the 50-Year Club at the Oklahoma Bankers Association 120th Annual Convention and Trade Show.
VINITA — The day after she graduated from high school, Yuvonne Watt went to work at Vinita’s First National Bank in the bookkeeping department. That was May 23, 1967.
Her first job was hand posting checks and deposits to customer statements.
Fifty years later, Watt is the bank’s chief operating officer, overseeing all the bank’s operations, and the first woman to serve on the bank’s board of directors.
Over the course of her career, Watt was involved in setting up the Grove branch, and she oversaw the construction of the bank’s motor banks. She made sure the drive-through lanes were widened to accommodate customers with cattle trailers.
“She is a valued asset,” said Dee Robison, First National Bank CEO and president.
Her attention to details is invaluable in the banking industry, he said.
“It takes a detailed person to keep a bank compliant,” Robison said referring to Watt.
Watt was inducted this week into the 50-Year Club at the Oklahoma Bankers Association 120th Annual Convention and Trade Show.
First National Bank has several women who have been with the bank for decades. Of the group, 12 female employees have been with First National Bank for over 20 years, and five employees have stayed more than 40 years.
Julie Dean, senior vice president of operations and marketing, has been with the bank for 27 years.
“The one thing I have learned from her (Watts) is that if you take care of the small stuff, then the big stuff takes care of itself,” Dean said.
On Tuesday, Watt, who is known for her humble and unassuming demeanor, celebrated her 50-year work anniversary with a low-key party.
“It was a full-time job, and I hoped it would last — but never imagined it would be 50 years,” Watt said of her first day on the job.
Watt said the most profound technology change to hit the bank was the computer.
“Our bank went to an in-house computer in 1986,” Watt said. “My co-worker and I were in charge of it, and at the time all we could do was spell computer. We had no idea how it worked, but we persevered, and it turned out great.”
Technology has changed the banking industry to make banking practices more efficient, she said.
Watt said the biggest misconception she encountered in her career is the concept of “banker’s hours.”
“In those days when we were open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. didn’t mean we arrived at nine and left at three,” Watt said.
The workday started around 7:30 or 8 a.m. and ended around 4:30 or 5 p.m., she said.
“Today we have even longer hours, so ‘banker’s hours’ are a myth,” Watt said.
A leader and motivator, Watt is also known for her caring and giving personality. Those attributes, combined with her intelligence and knowledge of the bank industry, have made her a natural mentor for many women at First National Bank.
“Watching the light go on in their eyes and watching them grow has been a beautiful thing,” Watt said.
When Watt is talking to students interested in banking or another field of work, she leaves them with this piece of advice: “Never give up and always do your very best every time.”