September’s Associate Spotlight subject is no stranger to pressure and a fast-paced environment. She possesses both a range of experiences and the versatility to apply her skills effectively in any role. Find out how this makes her a success at Fremont Bank and with her family. Join us as we get to know Jennifer Walker!
How long have you worked at Fremont Bank, and what do you do here?
This past February, I celebrated 15 years with Fremont Bank! I started in 2008 with zero banking or lending experience – fresh off a mall job. Somehow, I landed a brand-new position in the Residential Lending Call Center mailing out regulatory documents to mortgage clients (every position I’ve had at the bank has been new, now that I think about it). After a few years supporting Residential Lending Sales, I was offered an opportunity to join a brand-new department, Process Improvement, as a project manager.
This was very exciting, because it opened up my world to partnering with groups outside of Residential Lending. I got to build relationships with associates from Community Banking, Commercial Lending, Technology, Executive Management, Marketing and Compliance. As more and more regulatory changes were handed down to lenders, I found I had a knack for training. In 2015, I took on a Training Manager role, developing and facilitating training programs for all of Residential Lending. As my knowledge grew, so did my role. I was a training lead for large efforts. After 15 years with Residential Lending, I followed my passion for support and event planning to the Client Relations Department.
Fun fact: I have a certificate in wedding planning. For the last 10 years, I’ve been planning and executing weddings in my “free time” (Ha ha! What’s that?). In my current role at Fremont Bank, I’m excited for all the new adventures supporting the whole Marketing team and incorporating my passion into my daily job – it’s a gift. I feel like my job has finally turned into a career.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
I’ve only been in my current role for a few months, but so far, the most exciting part about my job is event day! Our amazing team works very hard for months curating every detail of an event, so seeing our creative vision come together into a success is so rewarding. Being involved in directly making clients and associates feel happy and appreciated fills my work with a sense of purpose. I also love being able to stretch my creative muscles and bounce ideas off my teammates. There is a wealth of knowledge in my department, and everyone collaborates really well.
What’s your greatest strength as a business professional?
Fresh out of college, I met with a career counselor. After a lengthy discussion and a written evaluation, it was determined I am best suited for a career in support. I may not have dreams of becoming a Vice President or a CEO (right now, anyway), but that’s because I am at my best when I’m working with people, contributing to a common goal. I thrive on being part of a team. It doesn’t matter if the task is organizing a filing cabinet or managing an event, I’ll go where I’m needed, and I’ll do the job to the best of my abilities.
I believe I am dependable. The buck will always stop with me. I never say “I don’t know” without it being followed up with “…but I’ll find out.” I think I can be counted on in times of crisis but also for the occasional “fire drill” if someone needs something in a hurry. You can ask anyone who knows me: I’m a bit of a control freak, a little like Monica from Friends and a little like Woody from Toy Story.
Last year, I was selected to participate in the Fremont Bank Women’s Protégé Program. We started with 12 women from different parts of the bank, and we were tasked with a large project – developing and launching a formal Women’s Mentorship Program. We had to quickly come together as a new team, go through all the phases of group dynamics and present a well thought-out program to our CEO. I did my best to help navigate the project and keep us on course. We learned a lot about each other and ourselves – and produced a solid, successful program! Call it what you want – teamwork, dependability, leadership – I think my greatest strength as a business professional is being supportive.
What's your current watching, reading or listening binge, and what do you like about it?
Oh man, I wish I had time to read still. I’m a very busy wife and mom, so the only time I get to read is when I fly alone. True crime podcasts have worked out very well for me! I’m picky, though. The podcaster needs to have a voice that’s appealing to me. The music and scripting can’t be cheesy. I appreciate the points of view of journalists, too. The Suspect series is very well done. My favorite, though, is Let’s Go to Court. The podcasters are two women my age who are best friends in real life. They take the cases they review seriously but never miss an opportunity for a joke. It’s a strange approach, I know, but it works for me! I prefer podcasts because I don’t have to see bad reenactments or worse, crime scene photos. When I need something lighter, I listen to the Smartless podcast. The guys are hilarious, and I had a major crush on Jason Bateman growing up.
What is your favorite holiday and why?
Thanksgiving has grown to be my favorite holiday. My mother-in-law used to host 30 to 40 people at her house every year; everyone was welcome. It used to be overwhelming and chaotic. In 2016, we extended our home and added a second bathroom, a family room and remodeled the kitchen. Naturally, my mother-in-law decided to “retire” from hosting. My husband was super excited; I was super anxious. Turns out there was no need to worry! I use my skills as a project manager and event planner, and he is his charming self (who a lot of you know; he works at the bank too!). We make three turkeys, have LOTS of wine, play Liar’s Dice and cards, surrounded by friends and family…it’s a great time! I love it because ultimately, I love making people happy. Making our home welcoming and where everyone comes together is special. My grandmother did it, my mother-in-law did it and I’m happy to carry on the tradition. You are all invited next year 😉!