WENDY DRUMMOND GALLOPS THROUGH BUSINESS BARRIERS TO BLUE SKIES AHEAD
Wendy Drummond is a woman on a mission. Her single obstacle? There are only 24 hours in a day.
Drummond has a diverse and busy professional life and wears several hats in many different businesses. As a principal owner of Blue Sky Bank, she has a heart for entrepreneurs, which led to a branch location at the Boxyard in downtown Tulsa.
“It was a challenge,” she says. “It’s essentially two box cars welded together, but it has everything a normal branch would have including an ATM and a vault. It’s fun and modern and actually doesn’t feel that small. In fact, we use the wall space as an exhibit area for local artists.”
Blue Sky Bank has been around for more than 100 years. Recently, the bank changed its name from Citizens Bank of Oklahoma to Blue Sky Bank. It better suits Drummond’s passion to provide commercial lending solutions to small and midsized business owners.
The sky really is the limit. Blue Sky Bank may have its roots in traditional banking but Drummond wants to serve everyone, especially those with big inspirations. Her least favorite phrase is “We’ve always done it this way.”
She says, “The American dream is based on small businesses and those are our customers. Because we are a locally-owned bank, we can come up with some pretty crazy and creative solutions. For instance, we are in the process of approving a loan to an entrepreneur who is buying a castle in Italy.”
But that’s not her sole focus. She is President of Drummond Communications, the largest US Cellular agent in the country with 42 stores in 7 states. She estimates she spends 50+ hours a week managing, traveling, and motivating her 250 employees.
By trade, she is an attorney, with a practice in Pawhuska. It’s a smaller role these days as she spends most of her time with Drummond Communications, but she is still in court at least two days a month. She also owns HR360, a company which provides full-service HR recruiting and placement services. And if that’s not enough, she oversees POSTOAK Lodge & Retreat nestled in the scenic Osage Hills.
In her downtime, she serves on several charity boards, is a volunteer Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and is chairing the 2018 Philbrook Wine Experience along with husband, Gentner Drummond. The couple has six children and three young granddaughters.
So how does this power player manage all these businesses, community activities, and still have a free moment for herself and family?
She says, “Being amazingly organized and not getting a lot of sleep. And I hate to say it, by multi-tasking quite a lot. And for the most part, all our kids are out of the nest. We have a freshman at OU, a junior at OSU, and a senior in Winnipeg, Canada. The older three are married with families of their own.”
The Drummonds don’t slow down from 6 am to 10 pm. But no matter what, they leave on Friday night and head to their cattle ranch to decompress for the weekend. It’s only 45 minutes away and is peaceful and quiet. Their kids tend to migrate there and it’s where they spend their downtime.
“We also like to travel, but it’s tough being business owners. One of our travel rules is we take an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening to return emails and make phone calls. Other than that, we completely disconnect,” she says.
The Drummonds are able to do so because they surround themselves with good people.
She says, “People are the most important part of business. And that’s been our focus, developing great leaders. It’s pretty simple— great leaders make great leaders.”
Drummond is trying to multi-task less and focus more on what’s in front of her, even if it’s for shorter periods of time. Especially with her team at US Cellular, to inspire others to lead takes putting down the phone and looking people in the eye, engaging in meaningful conversations, and most importantly, listening.
She says, “It’s something I’m working on right now and it’s paying off amazingly well. You get a lot further having a conversation with someone in person than you do in an email.”
She believes her most important attribute in business is her intuition. It’s something her husband has struggled with because it’s very different for men and women. That little voice, your gut instinct, can be a powerful business tool if you choose to take advantage of it.
“If I don’t listen, I always regret it. I think a lot of people have it, but my advice is to trust it,” she says.
It sounds like Drummond has busted through the glass ceiling and plowed through any misconceptions about women in business. But that’s not quite true. Granted, because she is on the entrepreneurial side rather than the corporate ladder-climbing side, Drummond’s perspective is somewhat limited. However, she is still asked if she works outside the home.
“It can be frustrating,” she says.
The archaic perceptions are still alive and well. For example, when she opened her law office in Pawhuska, she had a reception and invited local leaders. A woman walked up to her and said, “Wendy, I can’t believe you’re going to drive in all the way from Tulsa every day to answer the phones!”
Drummond says it happens all the time. She recalls bidding on a live auction item at a non-profit event when the auctioneer came over and said, “Ma’am, I’m going to have to make sure this is OK with your husband.”
She says, “So, are the barriers still there? Absolutely. Do I have a small chip on my shoulder? Yes, because it happens once or twice a week.”
Even so, Drummond believes the future is bright. Worldwide, more than 50% of law school graduates are women, and more than 50% of medical school graduates are women. It’s just going to take some time before things even out.
She says, “My National Director of Sales at the cell phone company is a woman and many of our top leaders are women. We joke that women are taking over the world. We have some great men, too.”