Young Professional 2019: Meaghan Brooks
Meaghan Brooks, Mobile branch financial service specialist at HAPO Community Credit Union
Age and hometown: 37, Richland
How long have you worked at HAPO? 1 year, 3 months
Describe your company: HAPO is definitely not a bank. We are a proud credit union that puts our members first. Our primary focus is to offer products and services that continually bring value to our members, and banking solutions that are easy and convenient combined with the best value.
Education: Bachelor’s in political science/international business from Carroll College
Family? Pets? I have an amazing rescue dog named Walter Payton who is part mastiff and part husky (sorry Coug fans). My mom, dad, sister and 8-year-old niece all live in the Tri-Cities as well.
How long have you lived in the Tri-Cities? Off and on 20 years. Moved here when I was 8, left for college and careers for 15 years and moved back two years ago. I am a proud graduate of the class of 2000 of Richland High School. Go Bombers!
What word describes you? Innovative
Biggest flaw? Overly organized, as in I have a color-coded system. It drives people crazy.
Biggest pet peeve? People without follow through or initiative
Dream vacation? Greece. It’s where my parents honeymooned 50 years ago.
Favorite book? “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith. I read it every year cover to cover.
Favorite movie? “Rudy”
Favorite musician? Anything by Prince or Beyoncé
Favorite sports team? Oklahoma Sooners or Notre Dame football
Favorite website or app? Snapchat
Favorite Tri-City restaurant? The Bradley
Favorite thing to do in Tri-Cities? With so many new restaurants or businesses popping up around the area, it’s always fun to get out with friends and family to explore and experience all they have to offer. Wine tasting is always a perk of living here as well. Trust me, Oklahoma wineries have nothing on the PNW!
What thing would people be most surprised to learn about you? I have been on the production side of an ESPN College Game day three different times and have been responsible for handing Lee Corso a shotgun to fire off on live television when he picked Oklahoma to win the game. In hindsight, probably not the smartest idea, but it made for great TV.
Describe your job and how you got into it: After moving back to the Tri-Cities, I was told I was over qualified for several positions in the area. I was connected with Express Personnel, and they set up an interview for a temporary position with HAPO in the Human Resources Department. I was only supposed to be a temporary hire for three to six months to fill in during employee extended leaves within the HR department, but ended up being hired on as a full-time human resources associate who oversaw our recruiting process, new hire onboarding and employee discount program. I was very lucky to have Nicole Prince, vice president of human resources, as a manager who saw my potential and what my skill set could bring to HAPO and not all the reasons I could have been overqualified for the position. She mentored and continues to mentor me through my career path at HAPO, which has resulted in my current position of mobile branch financial service specialist, our newest program. It is a hybrid position of community relations and banking, where we are expanding our reach and personal connection by being involved in our local community events and local businesses to satisfy any and all banking needs that you would normally go into a brick and mortar branch for. It’s been an exciting journey in the last two months of building something new from the ground up, but I am so thankful that HAPO has opened doors for me into a new career path I never thought would have existed.
Who are your mentors? I’ve had a few mentors in my day. My first one has been my dad. He has a standard of business and expectations like no one I have ever seen. His philosophy always was and still is that a title is just a title, but it is how you treat people from the bottom to the top that will help you succeed in life and in your career. He made it a point to remember names, birthdays, anniversaries, new babies, etc. from top-level executives down to the support staff. I have never seen a man as well respected and thought of in his profession as he is. He is tough and has a no-nonsense style of negotiating deals, but when all is said and done, the people he works with on a daily basis respect him and his decisions because he treats them with the same respect. I’ve always tried to model my approach in my career after him and it has served me well.
Toughest career decision? I built my career in the world of professional and collegiate athletics for the last 10 years. Often times it meant working long hours, living thousands of miles away from home, being on a plane every week going to one event or another, but I always knew I had the support of my family here in the Tri-Cities. I was on my way to becoming an expert in my field and considering starting my own consulting business when my dad got sick. I had several people try to discourage me from making the decision to leave a career I had worked so hard to build and that there wasn’t anything I could do, whether I was home or 3,000 miles away, but I knew I had to move back to the Tri-Cities to help my family and be there for them. It was one of the hardest things I had to do, but now, looking back on my decision and how my life has changed, I wouldn’t have done anything differently and was so happy that I could be here to be a support system for my family while we went through a very challenging time.
What do you like most/least about your job? I can’t say that I’ve encountered anything about my job that I haven’t liked so far. HAPO is a great company to work for and I am very fortunate they have a vision beyond the regular 9-5 banker’s hours that has enabled my co-worker and I to start building out an innovative program. It is rare when you find brands that are so well established willing to knock down a wall, give you the keys to a kingdom and say, “This is our vision, now you execute it how you deem it to be the most successful.” It’s what keeps my job fresh every day.
What was your first job? My first job was as the promotions intern with the Tri-City Dust Devils. I learned so many things that summer, from how to deal with corralling hundreds of kids as they sprinted across an outfield during Dusty’s Dash, to how to build out sponsorship proposals, write game scripts, coordinate on-field promotions, etc. Brent Miles and Derrel Ebert were some of the best bosses I’ve ever had. They led us with a combination of fun, but all the while still pushing us to do our best, not only for the MLB organization we were affiliated with, but for the fans who came to see us night after night when they could have been spending their entertainment dollars elsewhere. I learned the art of negotiating a deal without being intense and intimidating, and that even when things didn’t go your way, you re-grouped and changed your game plan to ensure that they did.
How do you achieve work-life balance? This has been something I’ve struggled with ever since I started my career. You don’t get a lot of time to have a life when you are working at a high level in athletics. There is always a game, an event, an athlete or coach that needs something from you, and it is your job to be the problem solver and the solution finder. The world of sports is a competitive industry, and I thought the minute I stopped to have a life, someone would slide in and steal my job. It was a very good friend that pointed out one day my work-life balance was awful, mostly because I had missed the last three friend mixers and was emailing family and friends or posting comments on their social media at 2 or 3 in the morning. I had to stop and re-evaluate what I was doing and recognize that if I continued on the same schedule, I’d burn myself out and be of no use to anyone professionally or personally. It took a while, but now I have learned to schedule time for myself, whether it’s getting a manicure or a pedicure, or grabbing a drink with friends and leaving my phone in my purse. Now that I’m home, I have family dinners every Sunday, which is a great way to take a time out from everything else in my world and focus and be engaged with the people I love the most. I’ve found that by making it a point to set aside time for these things and stick to it, I’ve been more invigorated and innovative at work and have been a better daughter, sister, aunt and friend to those around me.
Community involvement and service: Giving back to the community has always been important to me. Time is one of the most valuable things you can give. It was one of the driving forces into why I went into marketing and community relations in my career.
Since moving back to the Tri-Cities, I have been involved with Tri-Cities Sunrise Rotary, Mid-Columbia Rotaract (I am their current club president for 2019-20), served on the Christ The King Sausage Fest Committee for the last three years, volunteered with the United Way, Altrusa and Second Harvest Food Bank. One of the best perks about my job at HAPO is that I am involved and engaging with the community on a weekly basis, whether it is through financial literacy classes for kids and adults, rebuilding homes, or participating in a variety of community events.