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Celebrating Our People

Valerie Toalson

Celebrating One of The Women’s Resource’s Outstanding Women in Banking & Finance

7 Questions with Cadence Bank CFO Valerie Toalson

Valerie Toalson, CFO of Cadence Bank and Cadence Bancorporation, was recently selected as one of the Outstanding Women in Banking and Finance by The Women’s Resource in Houston. She was one of six honorees from among 42 nominations. To celebrate this recognition, Toalson reflects on rolling up her sleeves, her “best day ever” and the value of having a deep breadth of experience.


Your career has spanned many roles within finance. How have those experiences shaped the CFO you are today?

In many cases, my roles didn’t follow a straight path. I made a lot of side-to-side moves versus “up the ladder,” as they say. That broad base of experience has been a huge benefit, and it’s given me a much more balanced perspective.


What do you consider your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Taking Cadence public was hands-down my biggest professional accomplishment. It was a fantastic culmination of so much hard work, and a testament to the company’s stellar growth and performance over the years. Cadence developed into an incredible entity that we were proud to sell to investors. Standing on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange was surreal. We put Cadence on the public market, the name was on the board and when it started trading all I could think was, “Best day ever!”


What do you enjoy most about what you do?

I most enjoy working with smart people to solve problems, execute company strategies and work toward continuous improvement. Seeing the impact of your work is very motivational. Now that Cadence is a public company, I also spend a lot of time communicating with investors – telling the Cadence story never gets old!


How would you describe your leadership style?

I would call myself a hands-on/hands-off leader. What I mean by that is my employees are strong leaders themselves, so I let them have the autonomy they need to manage their areas of expertise, but I also make sure they know that I’m right there with them and will eagerly roll up my sleeves and dig in as appropriate. One of my favorite things is getting everyone in the room, marking up a white board and working through something together. I really value the diversity of ideas and creative thinking that you can only get through collaboration.


Do you have any advice for women looking to enter or advance a career in finance?

Work hard, know your stuff, look for opportunities to broaden your experience and never be afraid to be the only woman in the room. Fortunately, it’s less of an issue today than it used to be, but never let that intimidate you or hold you back.


What does it mean to you to be recognized as one of the Outstanding Women in Banking & Finance by The Women’s Resource?

It’s absolutely an honor. There are so many exceptional, talented, smart women in Houston. To be part of this group is humbling and very special.


What do you admire most about the work being done by The Women’s Resource?

The Women’s Resource is so impactful, working to help women and girls take control of their lives by learning how to manage their finances. Financial literacy is a foundational knowledge set that many people simply don’t have. And through financial education, these women are now empowered to make real changes that allow them to live more independent, productive lives. To me, this is incredibly powerful, and I appreciate the many contributions The Women’s Resource is making.


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