After 44 years in banking, SVP Operations Manager Pauline Garrett retires this month.
“I was 19 in 1976 when I started working for a bank in El Reno,” remembers Garrett. “I filed checks and put together bank statements.”
Garrett actually got that first banking job by being persistent. She had a savings account at that bank and every extra dollar went into her savings. Every time she was in the bank she would ask if they had an opening yet because she wanted to work for them. The man who first hired her said he was impressed with her determination.
Part of her first job required checking signatures on checks and contacting customers by phone about discrepancies. It was all about sorting and filing items correctly because there wasn’t time to do it again. Everything was manual. She had to do it right the first time. This made an indelible impression on her practices as a banker throughout her career.
Her next job was as a bookkeeper for a brand new bank. She was there on opening day. Because of her experience in the bookkeeping process, she was assigned the task of going to the Fed to pick up a PC designated for the connection so the bank could do their own wires.
A couple of years later she interviewed with Moe Armstrong, the acting president of Tri-Star in Tuttle. When she started her job there, the books were in a mess due to a sloppy predecessor. An accounting firm had been hired to try to clean up a bad conversion but left after only a couple of weeks since they said Garrett had it under control. Her love of following trails and solving mysteries drove her to get all the GL items posting to the right accounts and finally the GL accounts in balance.
“I wanted to know and understand everything about banking,” said Garrett. “I wanted to be able to help customers from beginning to end and solve their banking problems so that they left with a smile on their face.”
Less than two years later, the bank was purchased by First National and her job changed again. She was put in charge of operations. Chuck Daye called her “Rover” because she changed offices more than anyone. She was always first to offer her office or space if it was needed for somebody else.
At every job interview, Garrett always said, “If you hire me, you won’t be sorry!” Her work ethic is driven by the attitude that the bank will fail if her job isn’t done well. She was always looking for something new to learn. These character traits served her well as she worked her way up from an entry level job in filing to a position in management.
Her advice for today’s 19 year old entering banking? “Always do your best . . . no matter what the job is. When you have mastered that job, ask to learn something else. Always believe if your job is not done well, then the bank will fail!”
Although she loved her job, it is time to focus on other interests. Anyone coming to visit her had better call ahead. She probably won’t be sitting around the house. She and her sisters are excited about traveling together.
“There are so many places to see . . . first in Oklahoma and then around the United States,” said Garrett. “We love to travel outside the country but right now we are going to focus on seeing the sites here.”
Her grandchildren will have more of her time and focus now. She may finally get to sew and quilt projects she has put off. She has plans for the house and walks and drives and friends to see and places to go and life to live at a new pace.