A Coffee Break with Trish Brown: An Interview

Posted by Kylie Thompson on Oct 16, 2019 11:42:33 AM

From Bank Teller to Commercial Lending Officer and everything in between, Trish Brown has many accomplishments in her 20+ years of working for ChoiceOne Bank. The everything-in-between includes marrying her husband, loving and parenting her two kids (and fur baby), continuing her education in banking, and helping the bank win awards for a dedication to serving the underserved…But most recently; receiving the Rising Star Award by the Community Bankers of Michigan (CBM).


I sat down with Trish to try and compile the amazing career she’s had so far and the journey ahead of her and while I feel this story doesn’t even scratch the surface of what she’s accomplished, it’s an amazing glimpse of her dedication to helping those around her and creating a narrative of serving.


Tell us about yourself and how you came to work at ChoiceOne Bank?

I was 18 and working in a grocery store and I knew that I would not have opportunities where I was. I looked at what I did and found out that I loved working with people. I was talking with my Auntie and she had a friend, Marva Zeldenrust, in the bank in Muskegon, so I filled out the application and went to the interview in Kent City. With great trepidation I walked in and was greeted by Sheila Clark. I went through the interview and remember getting the call shortly after saying I had the job. I was so excited, I didn’t think about a thing, I just said “YES.”

"Don’t be afraid to talk about your achievements."

How has your time at ChoiceOne Bank shaped who you are today?

In management positions, during interviews I get asked questions along the lines of, “Why do you work at ChoiceOne?” I always say this, “I choose ChoiceOne every day.” There are hard days, there are amazing days, and there are days where I have been given opportunities for growth. I take the hard days and try to find the greatness in them. I take the great days and am so thankful that I have a great team of staff and customers who continue giving me reasons to be here.  


What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?

Be persistent. When there is something you want, don’t lose focus. If you want a new position, learn the position, ask to help and put in the time. It is recognized. Study that goal, ask for it and don’t be afraid to talk about your achievements

Hang around people who you want to become; emulate their behaviors and you will soon find this is your path to your destiny.

It’s OK to want more, more makes you keep up with business. Remember if you don’t ask for it, no one will know you want it and lastly…  always always always, say “yes” if a senior member of the organization asks you to do something. Even If you need to, say “yes,” and figure it out as you go along.


What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned in your career so far?

If you don’t talk about it, no one will.

Remember, no one should want anything for you more than you. And you will fall back sometimes, but that’s okay because it just may not be the right time.


Ask more questions and never assume.

"I choose ChoiceOne every day.' There are hard days, there are amazing days, and there are days where I have been given opportunities for growth."

What impact do you hope to make at the end of the day?

For the children I work with, I want to give them hope.

For my Non-Profit Organizations, I want to make sure they have the resources to continue with their ministry of helping people.

For others, I want to help make dreams come true. When people ask what I do I always jokingly say “I’m a dream maker, what’s your dream?” In many ways, I am uniquely positioned to make those dreams come true, and I want to be remembered in that way.


What mentors in your life helped you get to where you are today?

My Husband, Matthew of 18 years who has always stood by my side. Whenever I had a crazy idea, he was there to act as my sounding board. When there was a new opportunity, we discussed the impact it made on our future before making any decisions. When we both had an opportunity for growth, he stepped back and allowed me to grow my career while maintaining his own position and sacrificed his own management opportunity. When I was continuing my education, he read my papers with intention and even gave feedback. He never told me no and always encouraged me to try. He always says, “The worst that could happen is it doesn’t work.” He’s always supported my travels through the country all while staying home to maintain the family while I was afar.

There have been several mentors and many of my mentors include role models in ChoiceOne for many different reasons.

Jim Bosserd - Who gave me a chance and saw the potential in me that I didn’t always see, he was instrumental in my growth here.

Adom Greenland - For reminding me that I need to tell others about the good things I have done; no one knows if I don’t share it, and if no one knows, we can’t celebrate it. I often see myself reaching out to Adom to share my successes now and he is always celebrating with me.

Sheila Clark - For always guiding, directing, and shaping my future career here at ChoiceOne. Whenever I had strategic questions about career directives, she didn’t hold anything back, she told it like it was and for that I have been so thankful.

Topics: Commercial Loans, community, Awards, Interview, TrishBrown