By Hannah Flanders
From the National Guard and reserves to veterans, every branch of the military is already integrated into our communities. With their vast training, service members and veterans are ready to translate their skills in leadership, collaboration, and communication into making the banking industry a more diverse environment.
Staff Sergeant Jennifer Splittgerber is currently on active duty with the Wisconsin National Guard working as a recruiter in Sussex and Pewaukee, Wisconsin. She also holds a civilian job at PremierBank’s Fort Atkinson location as a credit analyst in the loan department.
From the start, SSG Splittgerber knew that she had an underlying desire to help her community in some way. Since joining the Wisconsin National Guard she has had multiple opportunities to assist with riot control, flooding, and hurricane relief situations — experiences she has found to be fulfilling and rewarding.
“The military has given me a sense of purpose. And now, serving as a recruiter, I’m able to help kids who might not have the opportunity to get a college degree,” told SSG Splittgerber. “It’s also very satisfying to help those kids who are headed down the wrong path in life. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the military.”
Through the National Guard and some encouragement from her now-husband, SSG Splittgerber completed her bachelor’s degree with a major in finance. In 2016, while attending UW-Whitewater, SSG Splittgerber applied to be a teller at PremierBank. From there, she applied to be a credit analyst intern, which turned into a full-time credit analyst position.
“PremierBank has been outstanding in supporting me. They have always been flexible with me whenever I’ve had orders or training,” said SSG Splittgerber. “Without the bank allowing me flexibility to complete my education, and their willingness to support me during my military leave of absences, I wouldn’t have been able to successfully complete my education or quickly grow in my banking career.”
Similarly, D’Juan Wilcher is the head of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) with Associated Bank, working at the Chicago office in support of the entire organization. Wilcher also serves as a lieutenant commander with the U.S. Navy Reserves and was previously assigned to Japan and Chicago and served in the Persian Gulf aboard USS Mesa Verde.
Once in Chicago, Wilcher assisted in conducting training and indoctrination for our nation’s newest sailors. This allowed for a smooth transition into banking in how “military leadership requires leveraging both direct and indirect authority” said Wilcher. “This bodes well to manage up, down, and across the corporate structure in highly matrixed environment.”
His transition into DEI was straightforward in that it so clearly aligned with his passions. “Banking is an industry that sorely needs DEI improvement. It is also one of the toughest industries to move the needle,” highlighted Wilcher, “and I generally opt for the toughest assignments to make an impact.” As a lieutenant commander, Wilcher brings to Associate Bank not only high levels of expertise in leadership, but the ability and desire to strive for the greater good of his community.
Being a reservist also means Wilcher has commitments to serving for a period of consecutive weeks and requires added flexibility in order for him to complete the assignment. “This summer, Associated Bank served me well by allowing me to [serve] with no interruption,” said Wilcher.
Banks make good employers of both active and retired service members for several reasons, according to Russ Turk, President and CEO of PremierBank. “They are trained problem-solvers,” he said, “[and have] the ‘servant-heart’ mindset.”
Turk has found these attributes to be highly valuable to community banks like PremierBank. “Our main role in our local economy is to help our communities grow and prosper,” says Turk. “We do that best by building relationships and serving our fellow citizens. Service members embody these character qualities and complement our mission quite well.”