By MELISSA CROCKETT MESKE
The next generation of banking began for Julie Laurent’s family when she declared her career choice at her eighth-grade graduation ceremony. Her father spent more than 50 years in banking and talked about it often. His stories had always fascinated Laurent, and she was hooked.
With the last 11 years at First Bank, Laurent has spent 32 years in the banking industry. Her area of specialty is regional retail sales and management, working with retail and small-business clients.
Born and raised in Red Bud, Laurent now resides in Columbia with her daughter Andrea.
“I cherish small communities like these and the things that life in a small town has taught me,” Laurent said.
She is active with the American Heart Association and the Violence Prevention Center and serves on the leadership committee for the United Way.
While still in high school, Laurent knew she wanted to start working immediately and that she still wanted that work to be in banking. Just three days after graduation, her career began with First National Bank of Belleville. During her time there, Laurent also studied business administration at Southwestern Illinois College.
At FNB Belleville, Laurent explored all the different facets within the industry. She started as a teller and opened new accounts. A year later she moved into an internal audit position that expanded her acumen over the next eight years. She gained additional experience from also working with acquisitions and mergers, data processing, and treasury management.
In 2005, she was contacted by First Bank’s Illinois regional president. After listening to him talk about the bank’s philosophies, core values and family ownership, Laurent knew she wanted to join them. She spent a brief period as treasury management specialist for their Illinois client base before moving into the regional manager position for the Southern Illinois branch network.
Laurent describes her professional philosophy as twofold.
“In order to strengthen and develop both client relationships, and team skill sets, you must always be willing to accept change, and continue to grow,” she said. “Being a mentor and a coach is as much about knowing and understanding your own performance, as it is about that of your team. And ultimately, we must remember that as we do evolve the client should always be at the center of what you do … it’s not about what we need, it’s about what the client needs.”