Q&A: Patricia Van Pelt


Patricia Van Pelt. Courtesy Fifth Third Bank

Editor’s note: Each Q&A in the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a woman from the region who’s influential, a rising face in her industry or doing interesting work. Submit tips on potential Q&A subjects to tgortsema at grbj dot com.

Patricia Van Pelt is the senior vice president of retail banking for West Michigan at Fifth Third Bank.

Van Pelt is a retail banking professional with more than 20 years of experience.

She is skilled at coaching, team building and problem solving. 

Van Pelt said her passion is to be “the best leader I can be, while building future leaders.”

Biggest career break?  

In 2010, I was given a last-minute opportunity to attend a week-long training on performance management offered by ADI in order to become a coach and champion for a large organizational change. Several of my peers had said no due to the additional time commitment and travel. I didn’t know what being a coach for this rollout would entail, and I was apprehensive to take on the additional work. This course and the work I did over the following six months helped shape my coaching and leadership style and allowed me to broaden my network at Fifth Third Bank. Not long after, I was promoted to retail executive in eastern Michigan. The key lesson I learned is to never say no to an opportunity to learn and grow — and when others are saying no, you can add value by saying yes.

Proudest moment?

Training for and completing the Marine Corp Marathon in 2005. This taught me that I’m capable of far more than I believe and that the biggest challenges are won one step at a time. Distance running has also taught me perseverance and patience for handling setbacks and challenges both in and out of the office.

Best advice you’ve ever received? 

Work as hard on your personal development as you do at your job: develop mentors and advocates to help along the way.

How did you make your first dollar? 

I was an elf who took the pictures of kids on Santa’s lap at the mall.

Most-treasured possession? 

Family photos. I’ve always been very nostalgic and love looking at old photos with my son, Jesse.

Dream job? 

I love to coach and develop leaders, and I get to do this every day in my current role. If I couldn’t do this, I’d be a leadership coach and consultant.  

If you were president for a day, you would … ?

Hold a meeting with key leaders and have them debate critical issues from the point of view of their opponents, with the goal of finding more common ground and making progress.

Last book you read?

The Carpenter,” by Jon Gordon. A great, quick read on being a servant leader.

Last search term you googled?

How to answer, “If I was president for a day … .” That’s a tough question, but Google didn’t help much on this one.

Your worst habit?

I’m embarrassed to admit, but I’m a bit of a procrastinator.

To unwind, you like to … ?

Read a great book someplace warm with a great view. Most recently, that was by a fireplace, looking out over the mountains in Park City, Utah.

Dream vacation?

An extended trip to Italy full of exploring small villages, eating pasta and drinking red wine. 

Favorite food? 

A really great burger and fries with a glass of cabernet

Person you most admire?

I admire all the women I know who are — or have been — great leaders at work or in their community, while raising a family. Luckily, the list is far too long to pick one.

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