Since our launch, The Source continues to grow and evolve. We’re excited to tell you more about our most recent addition to the program – a new team member!

We are thrilled to welcome Mary Straton Smith to BankPlus as Manager of The Source. Mary Straton is full of exciting, new ideas to grow the program, and we can’t wait to see what all she has in store for us.

In the meantime, we want to give you a chance to get to know a little bit about our talented, new coworker.

Tell us your background. Where did you grow up? How did you end up in the Jackson Metro Area?

I grew up in Starkville, Miss. and stayed there until I graduated from Mississippi State. Following graduation, I moved to Greenwood to work for Viking Range Corporation, where I was in charge of specialty items, internal and external events and even gave tours of corporate headquarters! My husband and I got married in 2006, and I went to work for Mississippi Development Authority Tourism Division (now VisitMississippi) as the manager of international tourism for the state. Then I became the Director of Communication for Visit Ridgeland, and here I am as Manager of The Source! Whew! That’s a lot when I type it out!

What was your college major? How do you utilize that today?

I started out in Psychology but quickly changed to Communication/Public Relations. One of the benefits of a PR degree is that it’s pretty broad. I have always been a decent writer, and my degree really allowed me to nurture that talent. It’s also all about working with and supporting people while in a public role, which The Source is all about!

What was your first job? What did you learn from it?

My very first job was working at a gift shop in Starkville. I helped customers, wrapped gifts, made bows, registered brides…you name it! Working in retail teaches flexibility and sharpens people skills – things that will benefit you no matter where you work later in life!

What the best professional advice you’ve ever received?

I used to travel overseas a lot for work, and on my very first trip to Tokyo, I remember standing in the Ginza district, and it just hit me: “I don’t know everything. The world does not revolve around me. All of these people have lives and stories and convictions of their own.” I would meet incredible people from all over who had different opinions than I did, and it opened my eyes to a world outside my own. Those experiences taught me there are different ways of thinking about things and to listen to and respect the thoughts of others. Travel is the best education money can buy!

What’s your trick to managing personal life vs. work life?

Well if I had a magic answer, I would bottle it up and sell it! I do try really hard to be present wherever I am – at work, I work. At home, I try to be intentional about spending time with my family. Key word: “try.”

What advice do you wish you could go back and give yourself 10 years ago?

Listen more than you talk. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Take constructive criticism the right way.

How do you stay motivated?

As a mother of two little girls, it’s important to me to set a good example for them as a working woman AND a mother. My mom was a teacher for almost 40 years, and I learned by watching her how much a woman can contribute to a household – be it financially or as a woman who works inside the home!

What made you want to join BankPlus as Manager of The Source?

Women in Mississippi like a special brand of feminism. We like to be treated as equals in the workplace, and we still like for a gentleman to hold the door open for us. We work hard and want our work to matter. I am so excited to help women reach their professional goals and to continue to learn from them myself!

The talent and insight Mary Straton brings to The Source will be a tremendous resource for our team and especially our members. We can’t wait for you to meet Mary Straton!