Fab Brumley was 13 when she landed her first job as a data entry clerk with her father's mechanical contracting company in Broward County.
One day, he called her out for a mistake. She went home in tears, telling her mother what had happened.
"She said, 'You know why he's disappointed in you, right? He loves you and wants you to be the best,'" Brumley recalled recently.
Brumley smiles at the memory now, saying that helped her develop a work ethic that led to a 30-year career with Bank of America. She also has served on the boards of nearly 10 nonprofit, business, charitable and civic groups.
For her entrepreneurial success and community involvement, Brumley won the Sun Sentinel Co.'s 2012 Excalibur Award for Business Leader of the Year in Palm Beach County. The award was presented Thursday evening at the Boca Raton Resort & Club.
Brumley, 49, heads Bank of America's Southeast business banking division, which lends money to start-up and established companies. She also has been Bank of America's market president for Palm Beach County since 2007.
"What I'm passionate about most is what we do to help businesses realize their dreams," she said. "To see the entrepreneurial spirit alive and well even as we come out of a very difficult financial crisis ... it doesn't get better than that."
Brumley's territory covers a nine-state area, from Florida to the Mid-Atlantic region. She travels frequently but tries to keep the same work routine wherever she is, waking up most days at 5:30 a.m. and starting with spiritual quiet time that she says sets the tone for the day.
"I'm a morning person and usually work 10- to 12-hour days," she said. "But I don't really feel it. It goes by quickly."
Rex Kirby, president of Suffolk Construction in West Palm Beach, said he's known Brumley for at least five years through their involvement with the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County.
Kirby said Brumley is one of the only people he can talk business with at 6 a.m. And he said there aren't many after-hours events where he doesn't run into her.
He's most impressed with her ability to remain even-keeled during tense meetings or when she's delivering bad news.
"In any business, there are times when people get cranked up a little bit, but she's got a calm about her," Kirby said. "It's a great trait."
Brumley was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, before moving with her family to Broward when she was 9. She graduated from Pompano Beach High School and later received a degree in accounting from Florida Atlantic University.
She planned to pursue public accounting, but a banking internship and a gentle nudge from mentors convinced her that women could have fulfilling careers in banking.
Brumley promotes workplace diversity, serving as the executive sponsor of the South Florida Chapter of LGBT. She recently accepted a position as a global ambassador for women leaders as part of a group founded by Hillary Rodham Clinton and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Kelly Sobolewski, Bank of America's market manager in Palm Beach County, said Brumley strongly encourages participation in a bank program that gives employees two hours of paid time each week to volunteer at their children's schools or other charitable events.
Sobolewski describes Brumley as a nurturer who's quick to reassure and mentor workers. And despite her packed schedule, Brumley still manages a healthy work-life balance, Sobolewski said.
"It's amazing to see someone who has the ability to juggle it all," she said. "I look up to her in so many ways."
Powers@tribune.com, 561-243-6529 or Twitter @paulowers
POSITION: Southeast Regional Executive for Business Banking, Bank of America, Palm Beach County.
PERSONAL: Married to Dean. Three adult children.
EDUCATION: Bachelor of science in accounting from Florida Atlantic University.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Since beginning her career with Bank of America in 1983, she has served as a controller, chief financial officer, commercial lender, client manager, market manager and market executive. In 2007, she became market president for Palm Beach County.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Member of the executive committee and most recent past chair of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County. Member of the executive board of the Economic Council and the executive sponsor of the South Florida Chapter of LGBT. Has served as member and chair of the governing board of West Boca Raton Medical Center and the board of the Palm Beach Black Business Investment Corp. Has held board positions with the Gulfstream Boy Scouts of America, the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce.