Chamber Board Perspective: My Perspective on Business and Education
When people ask me how long I’ve been with Bank of the West, they are surprised to hear that I just reached my 22nd year. Sometimes, we start out with a company and, before we know it, we have a career!
When given the opportunity, I share with people how much I enjoy working for Bank of the West and how the bank’s emphasis on education was pivotal in my career trajectory. Bank of the West is an award-winning place to work, one in which continued educational pursuits are encouraged. In large part due to the fact that I have been able to grow in my profession and build a career at Bank of the West, I find myself working hard to contribute to each of our customers successes as well as the success of the bank. As I have given of my time and talents to these endeavors, I have benefited by developing a career and a community.
I started working at Bank of the West as a teller while attending college and I eventually earned a bachelor’s in business administration and finance. Over the past 22 years I have held several positions, and today I am the area manager of seven locations in Stanislaus County. Bank of the West was instrumental in keeping me in the area while continuing my education. I was able to take advantage of the company’s tuition assistance program, and they were flexible with my work hours, when I needed to take specific classes during the day. Meanwhile, I was also learning valuable business skills.
It is evident to me that the reason Bank of the West continues to grow and gain success is because of its commitment to employees and the communities where we do business.
Investing in your employees has huge payoffs! From my personal experience, it has empowered me to be more confident, productive, motivated and positive. I have never stopped learning, and I am very receptive to coaching. Working for a company which offers tuition reimbursement to its employees has helped me tremendously; not only am I encouraged to continue my education, I am now able to encourage my employees to take classes and expand their skills and knowledge.
For many small business owners, I realize that resources may be limited.However, there are other ways to support your employees – you can become that valued mentor to your employees, especially those who are newer to the workforce. Your support, guidance and direction are valuable sources of encouragement. I remember those who served as my mentors, and I am grateful for their support and encouragement.
I believe we live in an age where being an expert in your trade and having cross-functional skills are essential. I remind our local business leaders to share their input into local college and university educational and professional development programs to help address the changing times and demands in business.
As leaders, we choose to set a precedent of encouraging and supporting higher education for our children and employees. Higher education is a sound investment in people’s futures. Businesses and individuals in our community can seize these opportunities, and make every effort to retain our top talent. In doing so, it could be likely that Modesto and our surrounding communities will have a better retention tool for innovative and creative employees of the future.
By Lucy Virgen, Bank of the West