The following is a brief interview with Grace Bruins, assistant vice president – marketing officer at Horicon Bank. Bruins is chair of the 2023–2024 Marketing Committee.
How did you first get into the banking industry?
I needed a job! After graduating college into the tail end of a recession, job opportunities were limited. Banking seemed like a great way to not only gain valuable job experience at the center of local economy, but also get to know other local businesses. A position soon opened up in marketing and Horicon Bank gave me the opportunity to grow and sharpen my skill set.
Why did you decide to join a WBA committee? Why should others consider lending their time and expertise to shaping Wisconsin’s banking industry?
I was first encouraged to get involved with the WBA Marketing Committee by a mentor and fellow bank marketer. Each networking opportunity, peer group session, and conference I attended by the WBA strengthened my understanding of the industry and gave me experts to rely on when I had questions. I became involved in the WBA Marketing Committee because I wanted to support those same efforts for young bankers. As leaders, we should want to leave this industry in better hands than our own. If that’s going to happen, it’s up to us to mentor the next generation of community bankers.
How has WBA facilitated the growth you have seen in your career and as a leader?
Community bankers are special. Not only do we all want to see our communities succeed, but we want to see each other succeed. The WBA Marketing Committee are the greatest cheerleaders. We celebrate the successes of our fellow marketers and the industry as a whole. There’s an energy that comes from the FLEX Summit, peer group meetings, and committee involvement that stems from a spirit of collaboration and encouragement. I’m so thankful for Horicon Bank’s membership in this Association that allows me to tap into the knowledge, experience, and successes of my peers. I have grown as a marketer because of the relationships fostered through WBA involvement and educational opportunities they provide. (So if you’re not involved. . .this is your sign to start!)
As a banker, and as a leader, what is the most important lesson that you have learned?
Raise your hand — to ask the question, to volunteer, to take on a new challenge. When we’re afraid to raise our hand, we get complacent. We stop learning; stop growing. Asking tough questions or trying something new can put you in an uncomfortable place, but that’s when true growth happens.
Who (or what) motivates you to succeed?
Faith and family. We as bankers and humans have a purpose to serve others. One day, I hope my two little boys will be proud of the work I did to fulfill that purpose.