A Coffee Break with Adom Greenland: An Interview

Posted by Kylie Thompson on Aug 21, 2019 3:21:57 PM

Chief Operating Officer, CPA, MSU Alum, husband, father of two, Rockford resident and most recently, a member of Grand Rapids Business Journals' 2019 Class of 40 Under 40. These are just a few of the many titles you can use to describe Adom Greenland, but they only scratch the surface of who he is and what he has accomplished in such a short amount of time since graduating from Michigan State University in 2003.

Since then, Adom has lived abroad, managed teams overseas, worked in finance as a CPA, helped his parents with a family business and became the youngest Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for ChoiceOne Bank; a local community bank with national awards in technology, innovation, community service, marketing and more. Here’s his story:

 

Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to ChoiceOne Bank?

I grew up in Rockford and went to Michigan State University.  After college I eloped with my high school sweetheart, Lauren for a Las Vegas Wedding.  We now have two children; Sabina six, Simon three and live in our hometown of Rockford.  For my first job after college I worked as a CPA and consultant for PwC, a large accounting firm and over the course of 11 years have worked in Chicago, Grand Rapids, and London UK.  After living and traveling overseas for a few years, my wife and I decided to return to West Michigan to start a family.  I came to ChoiceOne Bank because I was looking for a local company with a good reputation and the room to grow my career outside of finance.  Jim Bosserd and Kelly Potes took a chance on me six years ago to help with our Technology and Customer Service teams and I have been part of the growth since then.

"Take time to see the world from others perspective."

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

I am having an absolute blast working at ChoiceOne Bank.  I can help make changes that influence our business and impact our customers and employees – and I love it.  The leadership at ChoiceOne Bank has put a lot of trust with me and that has forced me to trust myself more. I also appreciate the impact local businesses have on our community so much more.  Before joining ChoiceOne Bank, I was not fully aware of community banking and I was much more focused on how to succeed in “big” business.  I grew up in a small family business and the culture at ChoiceOne Bank fits me.  I am now an advocate for community banks and small businesses which feels exactly where I should be.

 

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

Slow down a little bit.  After college I started in auditing with PwC and worked entirely too much.   I know the training and experiences I had early in my career have been the foundation for my success, but it was exhausting and very stressful.  I would say to enjoy the journey and not get caught up in the next promotion or advancement.  I always thought of a career as a straight line and took any disappointment to heart, but the reality is the best business people have a wide range of experiences and failures that shape them.  My career at ChoiceOne Bank has included being the champion of technology, digital channels, marketing, and retail banking – all things I had not done before.  Spending time to learn from the ground up and make a few mistakes along the way has absolutely been the best experience of my career.

 

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

  • Take time to see the world from others perspective. This can be your co-workers, bosses, and especially your customers.  I think sometimes we get caught up in the world from our own point of view and forget that everyone has their own context.  I am constantly reminding myself to stop and see the world through the eyes of our customers – something that we all need to do more of.
  • Before coming to ChoiceOne Bank I was a manager for PwC leading a very diverse team based in London, UK and I had to quickly set aside whatever biases I had.  Being different or more importantly, thinking different is an advantage as it brings out new sides to an argument and opens more possibilities.  I enjoy debating both sides of an argument and I think having people feel comfortable with expressing conflict of opinion in a constructive way is valuable. 
  • Incremental progress adds up over time. When you are starting a career, it is easy to be discouraged by the pace of change.  What really makes a lasting impact on any business or process is incremental improvements that move us into the right direction.  For example, our advancements in technology at ChoiceOne Bank have been very steady over the past six years, but all moving forward and with a goal in mind.  These changes added together have been tremendous and will be the foundation for our future growth.
  • Celebrate Success, which is something I still struggle with.  I am always so excited to move to the next project that I still forget to stop and celebrate what we have accomplished.  I think reflecting on what we have achieved is so powerful in reinforcing why we are working together and the impact we can have.
  • Don’t take yourself so seriously. 

 

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

We are building something special at ChoiceOne Bank and I am so excited to be part of it.  Not only the banking institution, but the people that make it happen.  The impact that I want to have is being part of making us the best bank in Michigan, grow deep and lasting relationships with my colleagues and customers, and help guide us to achieve more together than we can alone.

"Don't take yourself so                   seriously."

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

My father helped shape me to have an entrepreneur spirit – even if it is from inside a bank!  He started a business while I was a child that supplies sandpaper and finishing products for industrial use out of our garage.   With a lot of effort and trust in himself he has grown it into a successful family business that has evolved and adapted to economic and technology changes.  I helped in the business through high school and college doing everything from running machinery to managing the office.  The sense of ownership and pride in what we were providing our customers and employees is something special that I will always take with me.  I have so many memories of how I learned to work hard, be honest and ethical, and to consider how decisions impact the entire business – not just one location or silo.  

 

Since I have joined ChoiceOne Bank, the entire leadership team has been so open in sharing their knowledge, listening and being open to my ideas, and challenging me to consider different angles to a problem.  Despite being the youngest on the leadership team, everyone embraced me and helped me make up for what I was lacking – practical experience in banking.  Kelly Potes and Jim Bosserd were the first to trust that I could do the job and gave me the freedom and guidance I needed.  Linda Anderson, who led our retail branches when I joined gave me a crash course in retail banking that was amazing.  I still learn so much from everyone and sincerely appreciate our sales and retail team, operations, IT, customer service, compliance, etc. and I could go on.

 

What does your selection into the 2019 class of 40 under 40 mean to you?

I am so excited to share the success we have had at ChoiceOne Bank with the Grand Rapids community!  We have such a unique bank that makes a real impact locally and is making waves nationally.  This a team-win for all of us at ChoiceOne Bank.  While I have helped drive some of our advancements in technology and community outreach, I have been supported by everyone from our sales and retail staff to operations, marketing, IT and compliance teams, etc.  We have all put in so much work to help our Bank reach our goals – and we have done it together.  I have been humbled by the amount of support and excitement from everyone and it will be fun to celebrate together.

 

What are you most excited about right now?

Right now, I am absolutely stoked for our recent nomination for Best Small Business Solution for Finovate 2019.  This is a “big deal” in bank technology and is recognized nationally.  Our partnership with Autobooks was groundbreaking a couple years ago and they have continued to improve the platform for our small businesses.  I am so excited for them as they grow their business and help us grow ours.

I am also really looking forward to the merger with Lakestone Bank and Trust.  The people of Lakestone are awesome and the culture will fit with us really well.  I know we will have challenges as we integrate the two banks, but I am convinced that we will be better together, and our combined size will give us the opportunity to invest more in our technology and product offerings.… I can’t wait to get started.

Topics: Technology, GRBJ, Awards, Interview, AdomGreenland, COO