Senior Vice President and General Counsel Enterprise Financial Services Corp.
Enterprise Bank & Trust
Strictly speaking, Nicole Iannacone did not join the legal department at Enterprise Bank & Trust in St. Louis upon her arrival in April 2014. No such office existed. She was hired as the company’s first general counsel; on her first day, she was the legal department.
“That was a challenge,” said Iannacone, who spent six months immersing herself in the culture of the bank, the parent company of which — Enterprise Financial Services Corp. — reported more than $5 billion in total assets in its most recent federal filings. “In this role, you field questions from all across the organization, so there were more times than I’d anticipated where the answer was, ‘I’m not sure, let me find out.’”
These questions included, in the context of a potential loan to a biotech company, the bewildering inquiry: “How do we perfect collateral in human tissue?”
Iannacone had to get comfortable quickly with many aspects of the bank, including data, human resources and finance. Her role expanded earlier this year to the parent company, where she is now — at age 38 — the senior vice president and general counsel.
There’s a reason that Iannacone was on Enterprise’s radar. Upon graduation from Washington University School of Law in 2005, she joined Jenkins & Kling in St. Louis. She stayed for almost a decade, representing many financial institutions (though not Enterprise) and served as a resource on issues such as regulation and the structuring of loan transactions.
St. Louis being a relatively small legal community, an Enterprise recruiter contacted her as a potential in-house attorney. She had just had her second child, who was then about 5 months old, and she was looking for a different balance of responsibilities at work.
“The job was equally difficult and challenging,” she said, “only now you’re balancing the needs of an entire organization as opposed to the needs of one client from an organization.”
As outside counsel, she said, she provided guidance and best practices, whereas now, she’s in more of a policymaking role and helping to determine what’s best strategically for the company. Iannacone was a key player, for example, in facilitating Enterprise’s purchase of Eagle Bank & Trust for $130 million in 2016. She was also involved in the bank’s recent $213 million acquisition of Trinity Capital Corp. in New Mexico.
Iannacone said her employer is very entrepreneurially minded, so when certain groups within the company are considering new products and services, sometimes the initial answer from a regulatory perspective is “no.” She and her colleagues try hard to get to “yes” by tweaking their proposals.
“We do a lot of things behind the scenes that nobody would have any reason to know about,” she said. “And when you don’t know about them, that’s when I’m doing my job well.”
Because she has two children and a husband who also travels for work, she recently left her board seat at the Webster Child Care Center. She does, however, volunteer for events held by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She also pitches in for Girls on the Run, a nonprofit organization that combines training for a 5K running event with lessons that inspire girls to become independent thinkers, enhance their problem-solving skills and make healthy decisions. Iannacone helps with races, planning events and onboarding coaches.
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