A Lifelong Pursuit


By Jack Hartings, Chairman of ICBA

With the ICBA Community Banking LIVE® conference just around the corner, I can’t help but think about how lucky we are as community bankers to have such amazing networking and education opportunities throughout the year—both in person and at our fingertips.

I’ve attended ICBA’s national convention for more than 15 years and am proud to say that I’ve always gotten so much out of the event—both personally and professionally. I’ve always come away from the conference feeling even more excited about my role as a community banker. The conference always reenergizes me through the great relationships that I’ve been able to maintain with fellow bankers from which I learn so much.

The conference always reenergizes me through the great relationships that I’ve been able to maintain.

Before getting involved with ICBA leadership, the workshops at the convention were always one of the main reasons why I attended. The workshops always gave me new insights, information and perspective. Now with more than 60 workshops to choose from, there’s no shortage of learning opportunities and no reason to come away from the convention without ideas for making your community bank better. Not only that, the convention makes us better community bankers too.

While there is nothing quite like being together with your fellow bankers, the great thing about 2016 is that technology has made it possible for us to learn anywhere. So while I still see tremendous value in going to the convention, I also see value in online offerings through Community Banker University®, ICBA’s comprehensive professional development curriculum and resources for community bankers. In fact, beginning this year, all staff at my community bank, The Peoples Bank Co., will have access to ICBA’s excellent online education resources through Community Banker University. We find the courses to be better, especially when stacked against the competition.

But education isn’t new to Peoples Bank; we’re always trying to find new and better ways to help educate our staff members to become future leaders in the most effective and convenient ways possible. There are still the education standbys that we count on such as ICBA’s online director courses, which our directors have found to be extraordinarily useful for several years. You can’t beat it.

Also, as I discussed in my September column, The Peoples Bank is big on developing our employees. We started a management trainee program that has been extremely successful in helping us identify and cultivate extraordinary leaders who will help our bank succeed in the years to come. A diverse education is a key pillar of the program. After all, community bankers need to have an overall knowledge of just about every facet of the bank.

Fortunately, thanks to ICBA’s education resources such as Community Banker University’s resources, ICBA’s national convention and its annual leadership development conference, the LEAD FWD Summit, we have what we need at The Peoples Bank to make education a priority. That’s because we want to give our employees, our bank and our community the best possible chances of success in the future.

Jack Hartings is president and CEO of The People’s Bank Co. in Coldwater, Ohio.