Take 5 with Zions Talent: Ben West
The director of Credit and Risk Learning talks about how he leverages his military skills at the office and what he loves about working at Zions.
Zions Bank is dedicated to hiring and developing current and former service members. During Military Appreciation Month, I couldn’t think of someone who could showcase this commitment better than Ben West.
Ben is currently a Captain and Company Commander for a Human Intelligence Company in the Utah Army National Guard. He oversees a group of more than 80 soldiers that are interrogators, interpreters and linguists.
He is also a senior vice president at Zions Bank and oversees our Banker Development Program and Special Projects. In June, Ben is moving into a new position as director of Credit and Risk Learning.
In addition to his military and work responsibilities, Ben is a dedicated husband and father of three. No matter how many competing priorities Ben faces in a day, he makes time to coach both of his boys’ basketball teams.
Here is a summary of our conversation.
How did you get started in banking?
I started in banking as a teller in Boise, Idaho, back in 2003. I wanted a decent-paying job with a real career path and didn’t want to have to work nights or weekends. At the time, I had some other part-time jobs that kept me busy after regular banking hours, and I wanted to shift my focus from miscellaneous part-time jobs into something I could really focus on and not have to work odd hours. I didn’t have any real connections to banking, I just thought about various industries that interested me, what I liked, what I was good at, and what career paths would allow me the work/life balance I wanted.
Tell me about your role in the military
As a member of the National Guard, we have both a federal mission and a state mission. Our federal mission is centered around overseas deployments in support of our nation, and we are called to active duty by the President of the United States. In contrast, our state mission revolves around service in Utah, and are we called to active state duty by the governor.
For the most part, we tend to respond to state-level missions more frequently, albeit for shorter periods, than federal missions. Our state missions include helping cut up downed trees from local windstorms, filling sandbags to combat flooding, or responding to riots in downtown Salt Lake City.
How does your experience in the military help you be more successful at Zions?
The military has pushed me to my limits. I have gone through intense training and real-world events that allowed me to discover who I am at my core.
The military has taught me selfless service and sacrifice, critical time-management skills, core leadership lessons, and even how to operate on very little or no sleep for extended periods of time. Learning how to lead, and follow, in the military setting has taught me that no matter what is put in front of me, I can take care of my soldiers or employees and accomplish our mission.
What is something unique about you?
This one has me stumped. I don’t enjoy running, but I love to ruck. Rucking is when you put on a big backpack (ruck sack) and load it up with 35-45 pounds and go for a fast walk. I jog at times and try to keep my time under 12-minute miles.
What do you love about working at Zions Bank?
I love the overarching culture here at Zions. I know “culture” can often be an easy out to this type of question, but for me, I have had nothing but positive support for my career in both the military and at the bank from day one.
I remember when I first decided to join the military, I was already working at the bank. I had finished my undergraduate degree and decided I wanted to join the National Guard. I had started all the necessary paperwork with an Army recruiter, and it was to the point where I needed to tell my boss at the bank that I'd need a few months off to go to basic training at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.
I remember being so nervous that I would get in trouble or even let go since I asked for so much time away from my desk. But to my delight, I received nothing but unconditional support from my manager and the bank. Since that initial conversation, I have been away from the bank, serving our country and our state many times, and have always known my career was secure.
This passionate support for our military and our military employees starts from the top levels of leadership. Our executive leadership team has instilled a culture at the bank where we support our fellow employees and make sure that we all can genuinely have that work/life balance I was looking for way back in 2003.
Looking for an employer committed to helping you grow and develop in your career? Learn more about opportunities with Zions Bank and Zions Bancorporation on our Careers website.
Trina Eyring is director of Recruiting for Zions Bancorporation.