London overcame adversity to excel in banking career | Wednesday’s Woman

After graduating from LaRue County High School in 1992, Deena Friend London began her professional career at Magnolia Bank as a teller in the fall of 1993.

London was a young, single mother at the time and took advantage of the opportunity to go to work full-time to better support herself and her child, she said.

“I did not know at the time that I had ‘fallen’ into my future career path, but the wheels were set in motion when I was moved into an accounting position within my first 60 days at the bank,” she said.

Over the years, London worked in various areas such as human resources, operations, and led the establishment of the bank’s website and electronic banking division. She’s held the titles of chief financial officer and chief operations officer.

From a teller, London now is president and chief bank executive of Magnolia Bank.

“She’s a genuinely nice person. She’s very capable of everything she does,” said H.Y. Davis, executive vice president at Magnolia Bank. Davis has worked with London at the bank for roughly 21 years. “She’s a great role model for any young person in building a career. She’s a self-made lady. She’s been in the banking business for a long time, and she’s earned everything she’s gotten. … I’m very proud of the job she’s doing for Magnolia Bank and I am very proud to work with her every day.”

London credits Ron Sanders, who was president and CEO of Magnolia Bank until 2017, for recognizing her potential and encouraging her professional development with challenging roles and responsibility.

She said Sanders spent time mentoring her from her very first day at Magnolia Bank. She also credited Jim Shaw, her high school calculus teacher, who encouraged her to stay in his class despite an unexpected pregnancy.

“He came to my home and even held my daughter while he taught me when I was out for the few weeks after she was born,” she said. “I was concerned with being able to keep up, but he made the effort so that I could. He recognized the potential I had and took the extra step to help so I could still have every opportunity in spite of the challenges I might have as a young mother.”

London said their belief in her was critical in her ability to continue her education and efforts to support herself and her family.

“They each modeled true mentorship, servant leadership and selfless service, which set the foundation for my future,” she said.

London completed her associate degree through Elizabethtown Community and Technical College and her bachelor of science degree while working full-time and raising her daughters.

“I was determined to complete this goal I set for myself as well as be the example of what I expected of my daughters,” she said.

London is a graduate of Western Kentucky University and Louisiana State University’s Graduate School of Banking.

Daniel London, her husband, called her an “incredible woman with limitless abilities, evidenced by her growth from humble, challenging beginnings in a profession historically and heavily dominated by the opposite gender and her naming as president of a complex banking operation.”

“She has shattered every glass ceiling in sight and demonstrated that anyone, particularly women, no matter their personal obstacles can be successful with an attitude determination, drive and perseverance,” he said. “The example she has set for our daughters is immeasurable and demonstrated daily by their own significant successes. Her strength and multitasking abilities often leaves the family perplexed as to how she can muster the 110% she gives to each life category such as our family, our church and her profession. For these reasons, the girls and I refer to her as our real-life Superwoman.”

London moved to Hardin County in June 2016 when she married Daniel. She has three daughters — Kristin Webb, Kenzie Singer and Jordan Whitaker.

“I’m very proud of each of them,” she said.

Webb, married to Evan, is a NICU nurse at Baptist Health Hardin and has given London the two best gifts ever — her grandchildren, Asher and Evie. Singer, married to Spencer, works for Air Methods and in the Emergency Department at UK. And Whitaker, married to Riley, is a teacher at Ma’ili Elementary in Hawaii.

When asked what advice she’d give to those entering the workforce, London encouraged them to take time to learn as much as they can about every area possible.

“It helps all the pieces fit together when you are working with others in any organization you work for. Also, find someone that can help guide you in an organization that aligns with your own values,” she said. “Mentorship has made a difference in my life, in spite of the adversity I faced. This has also given me a true appreciation for the people God placed in my path throughout my life and career.”

Outside of Magnolia Bank, London said she has always volunteered in numerous areas in church, such as children’s ministry and youth ministry. Currently, she volunteers in preschool at Southeast Christian Church. Additionally, she’s a board member and treasurer for the Down Syndrome Association of the Heartland and serves on the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce board of directors.