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All That Glitters Is Not Gold

Written by Dusan Knezevic, Client Relationship Associate

As a teenager, I had several different jobs in the Milwaukee area – the punch-in, punch-out type you need to pay for car parts and gas. Soon enough I was in college, a senior, trying to determine my career path. With a business degree, you can imagine there are several different possibilities. It was at this time I was lucky enough to learn about First Business Bank. One of my professors was familiar with First Business, and at the end of class he came up to me and handed me now-retired President Dave Vetta’s business card, and told me to investigate jobs at First Business. In hindsight, I think he knew it would be a good fit right away.

Dusan's Candid PhotoOur Statement of Beliefs guides the culture at First Business, and even before I started my career here, I experienced Statement #5: No task is too menial! The way Dave took the time out of his day to reply to me, and connect me with our Director of Talent Acquisition speaks a lot about how First Business operates. I seriously doubt someone at that level of a large bank would respond directly to an email asking about joining their organization.

Even though there’s a First Business Bank location in the Milwaukee area, I decided to take a leap and apply to the First Business Bank headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin. I thought I’d like to experience living in a new city and, as a new college graduate, Madison was attractive. It seems like there is always something fun to do in Madison, but most importantly, Madison was close enough to Milwaukee, where I could come home most weekends!

Thankfully, First Business offered me a position in Deposit Operations at the headquarters in Madison, so I picked up my entire life and moved. It might seem routine to most people — a college student moving and starting life in a new city — but this was a big decision that affected my whole family. Moving away from my close-knit family to experience living on my own and starting a professional career were huge steps.

Over the next three years at First Business, I learned so much. Working within the high-performing Deposit Operations team at First BusinessTeam meeting was like joining a team of banking all stars. They are remarkably productive, thanks to a combination of a driven culture, uncommon empowerment, and highly refined processes behind the scenes that contribute to greater efficiency. There is a very distinct sense of teamwork and dedication in Deposit Operations that helps them accomplish goals. Even in the three years I was there, things were constantly changing and evolving, which speaks to the level of continuing growth and improvement within the department.

Three years into my career at First Business, I had the opportunity to work in a similar role at another financial institution in the area. I wasn’t looking, but at this point, with only high school jobs and First Business on my resume, I started considering how life might be at another bank. Three years earlier, I wanted to experience a new city, so now I was curious about changing up my employer. After all, I’d only had a few jobs from when I was in high school on my resume, and I didn’t really know what was out there.

Before making the leap, I decided to speak confidentially with a member of the Human Resources team who started at First Business the very same day I did. We’d developed a friendly bond, and she was in HR, so I thought it couldn’t hurt. She advised me to follow my instincts, but gave me the best advice: “Do not close the door when you leave First Business Bank. You may want to return some day.” It’s really nice having people you can talk to like that – people who want what’s best for you rather than just what’s best for the company.

Spoiler alert: I lasted all of eight months at my new job. In fact, I think I spent most of the time asking, “Why do you do things this way? At First Business, here’s how we did it.” I had high hopes – and even higher expectations. In the end, I think the differences in the culture affect everything. In a workplace where the expectations are performing consistently at a very high level, and the procedures and technology surrounding you all support that, you’re naturally drawn to achieving as much as possible.

Suddenly, I realized if I’m going to build a career with a company, I’d rather build one with a company I care about. About eight months after I returned to First Business Bank (ecstatic they embraced me again), I moved back to Milwaukee, too. Madison will always have a Mapspecial place in my heart, but I wanted to move home and buy a house. My biggest fear when I came back was that someone would throw it back in my face, but my fears were unfounded. Not one person said anything other than they were happy I was back at First Business. Even Corey Chambas, the CEO of the bank holding company, took the time to come find me and tell me he was glad to have me back.

And recently, I was able to transition within the company to a new department and role offering a new challenge. Five months after buying a house, commuting from Milwaukee to Madison on a daily basis, I was able to move to a new position within First Business Bank in our Brookfield office. Before I applied, of course I again consulted with my friend in HR, who encouraged me to go for it. I’m really excited about this new role within a company I fully believe in, in a city that is home. After going for that greener grass, I know more about myself and what I really enjoy and need to succeed within an organization, and I’m thankful for the entire experience. I’d encourage anyone reading this to keep your eye on the open jobs at First Business. They don’t stay open for very long, and it just might be your home, too.

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