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Commerce’s new talent leader is passionate about making an impact.

When Kim Jakovich first joined Commerce in 2000, she didn’t envision herself having a career in talent management. After graduating college with an accounting degree, the St. Louis native worked as an accountant for several years before starting her Commerce career as a compensation analyst in what was then known as the bank’s Human Resources department.

In time, Jakovich found many opportunities within Human Resources -- which evolved to become the Talent Management group -- including growing various functions within the Talent Management Team. In 2015, she became the leader of Commerce’s Total Rewards team, overseeing the bank’s compensation and benefits programs, and the talent management technology and strategy teams. Today, as she becomes Commerce Bank’s new senior vice president of talent management, she’s taking on the most wide-ranging position of her career.

Jakovich says she’s excited about what lies ahead. “It’s quite the opportunity and a big responsibility,” she adds. “People are our greatest asset at Commerce, and we know our talent strategies have to be right in order to drive our business.”

In her new role, Jakovich will be responsible for all aspects of the bank’s talent management efforts, adding talent acquisition, talent management consulting, talent development and diversity, equity and inclusion to her current responsibilities. It’s ultimately about Commerce’s ability to attract and retain talented people, which Jakovich notes is becoming more complex all the time.

“The intersection of talent and work is completely changing, and it’s a competitive talent market” she says.

“People aren’t just working for a paycheck today; they want more. That’s why at Commerce we approach talent management with agility and a growth mindset, consistently adjusting to the changing world around us. We’re continually challenging ourselves to think differently about the team member experience. It’s a huge area of focus for us to understand the various needs of our team. We know different people value different things, and they want to have purpose at work. We have to continue to meet that challenge to attract and retain passionate talent.”

Sara Foster, who is retiring after leading Commerce’s talent management initiatives for 25 years, is confident her successor is ready for the role. “Kim’s got a lot of great qualities that will serve her well — her tenacity, her flexibility and her collaboration skills,” she says. “She will persevere through anything. When one plan doesn’t work, she can figure out a plan B. She just figures things out; it’s what she does. She’s also great at reaching out and getting people involved in a discussion that needs multiple perspectives.”

Beth Feuring, a senior vice president and director of talent development at Commerce, says Jakovich fosters camaraderie among her teams as well. “She practices appreciation and encourages thinking big.” Feuring says. “Whether something was a team effort or an individual one, she’ll acknowledge contributions publicly or in one-on-one discussions — taking into account the style of the individuals involved. You always know where you stand with her. She advocates for people and works right alongside you to get things done.”

Jakovich believes it’s important for leaders to listen to others when making decisions. “I’m team focused, and appreciate everyone’s contributions to our success,” she says. “I rely on my team and collaborate with them. I make sure I’m not the loudest voice in the room. I like to listen, take things in, and give people the space they need to speak candidly and share their insights and ideas.”

Jakovich takes this approach because, as she notes, “I’m certainly not an expert in every aspect of talent management. A lot of the excitement I have for this new role comes from knowing I’ll be working with smart leaders on my team and partnering with them to accomplish our goals. The team is a crucial part of what we do. I’m fortunate that both my current and future teams are extremely talented individuals.”

That collaborative style, Foster believes, is one of the keys to Jakovich’s success. “Kim has done a lot of work with her current team to bring them together as a single unit, rather than disparate groups,” she notes. “She encourages everyone to arrive to a meeting with thoughts about a given topic. It’s her way of making sure she’ll hear from everyone and that she has representative views from the total team.”

Jakovich is grateful that Commerce provided her the ability to take her career in new directions over time. “Commerce has been full of opportunities for me -- some offered and some asked for” she says.

“I’ve been fortunate to have built strong relationships here. I’ve worked hard to gain the trust of the people I’ve worked with, and that has helped me progress in my career. I’ve taken a nontraditional path to where I am today, and that’s not that uncommon at Commerce. It’s all about being able to adapt to change and embracing new opportunities. Skillsets drive careers here. If you develop your skills and embrace learning new things, there’s a lot you can do.”

Over the years, Jakovich has learned a lot from many different people. “They provided me with the right experiences to help me grow and step out of my comfort zone,” she says. “I try to do the same for others. I enjoy coaching the individuals on my team, and they know my door is always open.”

Feuring notes that working with Jakovich has many intangible benefits. “She makes work fun,” she says. “We all spend a lot of time at work, and you want to spend that time with people who bring out the best in you and have fun doing it. Kim is authentic, flexible, and encourages people to have work-life balance. She’s very genuine, and that’s what makes her different. I’m excited to see what we accomplish with her at the helm. I have no doubt we’ll thrive under her leadership.”

What most excites Jakovich about her new role is that it will increase her ability to make a difference for Commerce team members. “I think about the opportunities we have to enhance the way we do things and make an even bigger impact on people’s lives,” she says. “We’re helping people succeed while also helping the company succeed. That’s energizing to me.”

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