Community Banker Spotlight

Josh Brown

Every step led to here: HR in banking

Josh Brown
Senior Vice President Human Resources, First Financial Bank, N.A., Abilene

Josh Brown, a Wisconsin native, discovered his calling in Human Resources after navigating a whirlwind of travel and diverse job roles throughout his journey. As a military child, Brown’s upbringing led him to traverse the U.S., with his father’s career taking him to places such as Mississippi, Illinois, North Dakota, Georgia, Texas and Washington D.C.

Fate played its hand when Brown’s wife, also a military member, extended their journey beyond the U.S. borders. Prior to the move, he started his HR career in the retail industry. He polished his communication skills in Japan while teaching English as an AET in the community, then expanded his skills working with a local non-profit where he found his true calling on the operational side.

While working in the non-profit sector in Japan, Brown assumed a managerial role, overseeing recruitment processes as the company expanded the operation of the organization to reach all members of the military community at the nearby base. “Moving back to the U.S., I knew that’s what I wanted to do and really what helped with those skills was the nonprofit role in Japan,” Brown reminisces.

Upon returning to the U.S., Brown engaged in conversations where he discussed his education and experiences from the last five years in Japan. The immediate and overwhelming recommendation was, “You should consider First Financial Bank.” Brown said the response was instantaneous. He’s been with the Abilene bank for almost 10 years now.

Delving into the intricacies of HR in banking

While Brown has worked in a few different industries, HR in banking particularly stands out. “It’s very interesting because there’s a lot of factors to consider when you talk about HR in banking. HR, in general, is similar across the industry, whether it’s retail manufacturing or the public sector, but for banking specifically, it’s just so much more regulated.” He continues, “We’re held to extremely strict financial regulations, plus we’ve got to consider anti-money laundering and fraud. We must protect people’s personal data, so then we get into technology security — and of course, ensuring the security of our customers’ assets is probably the most important thing. There are other industries that have regulation, but I don’t think they have the same level of scrutiny and oversight by regulatory bodies, nor do they have the financial compliance requirements that the banking industry holds. And obviously in HR that trickles down to how we address training employees and the expectations we levy on them.”

Service standards

Brown leads a close-knit HR team of 10 individuals. Together, they engage in a daily lineup each morning, diligently reviewing the bank’s 21 non-negotiables as a testament to their commitment to excellence. Proudly emphasizing their dedication, Brown said, “We have our 21 non-negotiables and we have our customer service philosophy. As a team, we try to ensure that. We live and breathe those non-negotiables. We have them on display so no one in the bank has a different expectation.”

Brown takes immense pride in his role in developing and implementing the bank’s 21 non-negotiable service standards. About five years ago, the bank collaborated on the non-negotiables with Horst Schulze, the renowned co-founder of the Ritz Carlton, who is widely known for exceptional customer service.

Personal and community involvement

To stay current with HR trends and information, Brown said he’s intentional about prioritizing daily dedication to industry updates. He remains informed by actively following SHRM, subscribing to legal compliance updates from the DOL and EOC, and participating in webinars and conferences. Additionally, he plays an active role in his local SHRM chapter, where he serves as a board member, he’s involved with Leadership Abilene — a community development program — and is involved as much as possible with his children’s sports activities.

What keeps Brown drawn to his role is the ongoing chance to make a positive impact on both the bank’s employees and the community. He said the bank’s culture supports and strives for an inclusive workplace, valuing diverse perspectives on ways the bank can contribute to community service projects.

“We are a bank — which is somewhat of an older industry — but we are innovative. We are looking for ways to continue to innovate, provide top-level customer service and be where the customers are.” He continued, “Then again, that commitment to excellence in customer service and excellence in our philosophies is just how we operate as a bank.”

Earlier this year, Brown joined TBA’s HR Huddles. He said involvement in this group provides HR professionals in the Texas banking industry and community bankers with valuable resources, allowing them to gain a deeper understanding of the intricacies of this field. The group serves as a platform to leverage knowledge from seasoned banking professionals.

In his spare time, he finds joy in running and cherishes moments with his family, whether it involves traveling together or attending their extracurricular activities.

Who is an inspirational/influential figure in your life?
My grandfather.

What is your favorite book?
There are many — I highly recommend Every Day I Fight by Stuart Scott.

What is your favorite sports team?
Green Bay Packers.

What is your favorite quote?
“Every day is a chance to be better than we were the day before.” — Ted Lasso

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