Advancing a career from a teller position at Columbia Bank is less about college degrees and being good at math.
“It’s more about doing one simple thing,” says company leader, Aleigha Nation. “It starts by raising your hand.”
Aleigha knows about raising her hand at Columbia Bank; she practically got a sore arm from doing it during her ascension from an entry-level client service specialist (CSS) position to her current role as senior vice president and marketing director.
“Every manager I’ve had since my early days as a teller has been very supportive. The opportunities to learn and move have always been here, and it starts simply with an indication that you want it.”
And about that math. Why is the lack of a business or finance degree not such a deal breaker for Columbia Bank managers looking to fill entry-level positions?
“It’s more important that you enjoy helping people and can demonstrate a willingness to learn.”
Using experience to help tell a story
In her role as a marketing executive, Aleigha helps tell the story of Columbia Bank. It’s a story she knows well and can recite from an intimate perspective and from multiple levels.
“Having been there at the branch and teller level, it certainly gives me a sense now of what works and what doesn’t work in terms of marketing and communications. On my team, we have other people who have come up through banking, too. We get the language and what it takes to help our CSS people help our customers.”
But the storytelling doesn’t end there for this marketing director.
“We create and distribute a lot of internal communications for our employees. That includes messaging that’s reflective of our culture of growth and promotion from within.”
Aleigha helps employees stay abreast of company-wide opportunities that go beyond job openings and leadership courses.
“We’re always asking our people about what’s important to them and in the communities where they live. You know, what’s your passion? We can support that cause in so many ways, including paid time off to participate.”
Staying connected to communities and what’s important
Understanding the value of investing in its people and in the communities it serves is key to the business model at Columbia Bank. As the company continues to grow and create more openings and more opportunities for employee advancement, the harder it works at holding on to a small-bank mentality that stays connected to people.
“We’re not the small bank we used to be. But the word on the street, and I hear this time and time again, is that Columbia Bank is one of the better banks to work for given its sense of culture and family.”
And it’s still not too big to notice when somebody raises a hand.
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