By Janet Stoica
In a partnership that is a first in our area, Fidelity Bank collaborated with Dudley’s Nichols College to bring a unique learning experience to employees in its home office in Leominster. Personnel growth and retention is one of the bank’s main goals.
Bank President Christopher McCarthy, a member of the Nichols College Business Advisory Board as well as a graduate of the school, attended a board meeting a few years ago and learned of the college’s company-partnering educational program. The program is an alliance between any company or organization that seeks a specifically-tailored educational program for its employees. Nichols will customize a program to meet the companies’ goals for their personnel.
For Fidelity Bank, Nichols teamed up and coordinated an 18-month program in tandem with Fidelity’s pre-existing Life Design University. A Leadership Development Program was established with a monthly class; three college credits were earned by the students picked for the program. Nichols’ professors teach Fidelity Bank personnel at the bank’s home office in Leominster.
Classes include time management, interviewing skills, profit and loss analysis, mentoring, business proposals, and team building. “This is a learning and development opportunity for our employees,” said Mr. McCarthy, “we were looking for a partner to bring this prospect to our employees. The program involved hard and soft skills from technical subjects to mentoring. We are very pleased with the program and our first class of 13 will graduate in October as we look forward to the next classes beginning in January 2019. It’s been a valuable experience for our employees.”
We spoke with three Fidelity employees who attended the classes.
Amanda Guzman, Fidelity’s operations business analyst, has been with the bank for eight years and expressed her gratitude for the program: “With the various modules of accounting and time management as well as team building and business proposals, this program has assisted me in so many ways. The time management and team building aspects were my personal favorites as our department is reactional so it gave me the tools to better manage the department. The team building module helped me to learn our staff’s differences and how we are all about focusing on a common goal. Fidelity Bank has shown its investment in its employees by these classes and how to take this learning and give back to our organization.”
Susan Bachman, marketing manager, talked about how her passion is communication with and product presentation to people. “I have to believe keenly in something to market it and here I believe our bank’s culture is celebrated; there can never be enough communication. To be chosen by Fidelity management as a future leader is a big compliment. The fact that Fidelity invests in their employees is a valuable asset for our bank. We know our bank is positively different and we are a community bank.”
Classes in leadership stood out most for Ms. Bachman. “One of our speakers was Colonel Tom Stewart, who has over 28 years of experience in the U.S. Army, serving as a Battalion Commander while deployed to Afghanistan. He talked about how his team moved forward during battle and how they got out alive. This made us realize how a leader’s impact, their method of carrying themselves, and how they lead their lives makes a powerful impact on a team.
Our ethics class was also an eye-opener, leading us to see other people’s outlooks. People can have civil conversations and disagree but it’s always important to listen to each other. This demonstrated to us that employees from our various departments do have differing viewpoints. I can’t stress enough how valuable it was to take these classes. Our bank president, Chris McCarthy, spearheaded this program to assist all of us. It was valuable for him to be behind this and we saw his support and belief in the program so it motivated us to want to be successful. This type of program keeps our bank ahead of the curve and shows that Fidelity cares and wants us to continue learning and to stay with the bank.”
Vice President and Mortgage Sales Manager Brian Cormier talked about how retaining good employees is essential to the bank’s strength. “It takes 3-6 months to get a new employee up to speed,” he said, “so it’s wise of Fidelity to address this and to invest in their personnel with this priceless educational endeavor. Our plan is to be Best in Class and this is certainly a great way to walk that path. These inaugural courses that I have participated in have proven to be a wonderful focus on people in our bank who have shown leadership qualities. This will help to improve the teams we work with. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with other bank personnel whom I normally wouldn’t work with and it has made me appreciate their departments even more.”
“Our Life Design University differentiates us from other banks. It demonstrates that Fidelity views its employees as assets. As we constantly evolve and grow this shows that we’re only as good as our employees, this is clearly a real world example of our bank’s commitment. One of our guest speakers, Dr. Allison McDowell-Smith, talked about leadership and personalities. She spoke about taking your personal strengths and weaknesses and using them to the advantage of your team. Leadership qualities don’t necessarily mean you’re an extrovert, you use your strengths to everyone’s advantage. She was impressive in that she created the first counterterrorism degree program at Nichols College.”
“Each one of us has our own story,” said Mr. Cormier, “and our personalities are formed in childhood. Understanding this when building a team helps to motivate a team. You can’t just dictate to someone. As long as you know your team members’ backgrounds, you can all work together and team leaders can make themselves better people too.”
Fidelity Bank’s home office is at 478 Mechanic Street in Leominster and they have additional branch locations in Leominster, Millbury, Worcester, Fitchburg, Gardner, Shirley, Barre, Paxton, Princeton, and Winchendon. Home office phone: 978- 870-1306.