‘Teaching me how to lead’
Stranded in Guatemala after a family vacation, a Wells Fargo banker receives help from her manager to get home safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was 9 p.m. in Guatemala on March 22 when Wells Fargo Personal Banker Xenia Del Cid received the news: She, her husband, and their four children had seats aboard a U.S. government flight evacuating Americans stranded when the country banned travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But it was leaving the next morning.
Two hours ahead of Del Cid, her boss, Adria Hernandez, a branch manager in Wendell, North Carolina, readied for bed when the text and its stay-or-go question popped up on her phone. “Go!” she replied.
Del Cid had originally scheduled the trip for March 7-20 — plenty of time for her children to experience Guatemala and meet their grandmother before resuming work at Wells Fargo on March 23.
“I was scared, anxious, panicked, happy, and had so many emotions going through me that it was hard to process what was the best choice when the U.S. government contacted me and said I had a flight out,” Del Cid said. “I had heard scary stories about conditions in the U.S., but also heard reports about actions the Guatemalan government might take, and was concerned about my family potentially being split up.
“My family extends to the people at the branch I work at and the local farm community we serve, and I knew I could turn to Adria as the leader of my work family to help me confirm the best option.”
Three days earlier, Hernandez had contacted the U.S. Embassy on Del Cid’s behalf when she couldn’t get through. She’d made sure they had all the Del Cid’s names and contact information for the evacuation flights being organized.
“I’m also a mom of four and know that if I was stranded somewhere I would hope someone would be there to support me, even if it was just being there to listen,” said Hernandez of her support, which she credits in part to her time in the U.S. Air Force.
“I went into the service right out of high school and was very quiet and shy, but learned through the Air Force to speak up and be a leader and take charge of my team,” Hernandez said. “You don’t leave anyone behind. Those skills from the military have carried me through, and I draw on them every day in how I manage at Wells Fargo.
“If someone is struggling with something on my team, we all jump in and figure out what needs to be done and help each other, so we’re all working toward the same goal,” she said. “Here, that was first getting Xenia and her family home safely and then, once that mission was accomplished, back with us at Wells Fargo.”
Before she went to sleep March 22, Hernandez made sure Del Cid had a rental car to pick up in Dallas when her flight arrived from Guatemala. The rental car was waiting for the family to pick up, pay for, and drive on the long, two-day trip from Dallas to Wendell.
“That was a long and odd trip,” Del Cid said. “Most restaurants and businesses were closed, so we ate out of the car a lot. Most bathrooms were closed, there was a shortage of toilet paper, and I believe we were the only people staying at the hotel we stopped at that one night. It was very eerie and startling to see how much had changed in the short time we had been outside the U.S.”
After arriving in Wendell on March 25, the Del Cids still had a flight to Miami and road trip back in the family car left stranded at the airport.
The official quarantine was well underway in Wendell when Hernandez came through for Del Cid again. She and her husband, Frank, delivered groceries on the front porch and said hello through the storm-door glass.
“What Adria did for Xenia is probably the most extraordinary story I have heard among many in this whole crisis of someone going above and beyond for an employee or a customer,” said Mike Golden, Wells Fargo’s regional bank president for the Triangle Region.
“Adria needed to help Xenia through a life struggle she couldn’t see her way through and took leadership beyond the 9-to-5 and the day-to-day,” Golden said. “She took care of family.”
Golden also noted the efforts of other branch managers, including one who regularly delivers food to a coworker ordered by a doctor to self-quarantine because of their increased risk of contracting COVID-19, and two others who regularly make lunch and breakfast for their teams to lift spirits in challenging times.
With her own branch temporarily closed, Del Cid enjoyed her social-distanced homecoming with her teammates at the Capital Boulevard branch in Raleigh, North Carolina. “We couldn’t hug or shake hands, but I was so excited to be back together that we kind of danced around,” Del Cid said. She then hit the phones to check in with her Wendell customers. Before the day closed, she’d helped a substitute teacher who lost her job get mortgage payment relief.
“If this experience has taught me anything, it’s how to treat your teammates and really live out the vision and values we say we stand for as a company. With her example, Adria is teaching me how to lead.”
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