Helping Our Banks by Hiring Our Heroes

By Laurie Stewart

One of the greatest challenges banks face today is attracting and retaining a talented and committed workforce for the future. As any bank CEO knows, it takes a dedicated team of employees working together to move the bank’s mission forward. That’s why I’m pleased to tell you about a new partnership between ABA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to help banks engage in the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship program.

Learn more about Hiring Our Heroes and how your bank can take part by clicking here.
The program encourages transitioning service members and military spouses to intern with private sector employees for up to 12 weeks at no cost to the candidate or organization. It’s a win-win for banks and veterans alike. Banks are consistently on the lookout for new talent and veterans have a diverse array of skills to offer employers. The program expands job opportunities for veterans while offering bankers the chance to hire disciplined and dedicated “heroes” to fill key openings at their banks.

This program brings quality candidates with a wide range of skills—from leadership to technology—to the forefront while giving bankers the opportunity to reach out to service men and women at a critical time in their careers. It’s also a great way to encourage veterans to look to banking as a career of choice while building on the industry’s strong record of veteran hiring.

Many large companies, including banks, have participated in the program since its inception, while smaller banks haven’t always had the chance to engage. ABA is working with Hiring Our Heroes to match banks of all sizes with corporate fellows across the country. The program has a track record that speaks for itself. Since it was launched in 2015, over 92 percent of participating veterans have been offered permanent positions.

It’s an opportunity that I can speak to personally, as my bank, Sound Community Bank, in Seattle, just completed a pilot run of the program with community bankers in mind. After selecting a candidate from a list of highly qualified fellows, we quickly joined the ranks of those who “hired a hero”—before immediately signing on for a second candidate!

While we’ve hired veterans in the past, the advantage of having a structured program where participants can intern, learn about banking and hopefully turn that opportunity into a full-time career, has been very appealing. The program not only helps streamline the hiring process but gives those who have served our country the chance to transition with confidence from enlisted life to the civilian workforce.

During the pilot program we had the opportunity to offer Anthony Tran, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran transitioning from the military, an internship in our marketing department as a residential loan specialist. Tran joined the Marines after graduating from Arizona State University and made two deployments as an executive officer in the infantry. One of the factors that made Anthony’s application stand out from an impressive list of candidates was his background in communications. The position required marketing expertise, and his background and skills dovetailed perfectly with the job. After arriving at the bank, Anthony seized on this marketing role and thrived, proving to be a tremendous asset to the team and one of our best project managers.

Without the corporate fellowship program, it’s unlikely that we would have had the opportunity to interview this talented young veteran—much less welcome him to Sound Community Bank. Before signing up for the program he had never considered a job in banking. But after researching our bank and taking part in the internship program, Anthony discovered that his skills and commitment to service were an excellent fit with the industry.

We have been so pleased with the results of this pilot run that I strongly encourage you to consider participating in the Fellowship Program at your own bank. It’s an excellent way to deepen your talent pool while making a difference in the lives of those who have done so much for our country.

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About Author

Laurie Stewart

Laurie Stewart, president and CEO of Sound Community Bank in Seattle, is the 2019-20 chair of the American Bankers Association.