Bill Burgess and his wife of 24 years, Kelley, live in Waltham, close to where he grew up, where he works, and where he volunteers a lot of his time. He got into banking almost accidentally and has been with the same community bank for his entire 23-year career.
His nominator, Carole Katz, vice president of marketing at Watertown Savings Bank, said she nominated him for three reasons: First, he’s a great branch manager; second, he volunteers helping elderly residents manage their finances; and third, and most especially, “he created an Emerging Leaders program for high school students in Waltham that teaches students about important issues in leadership such as public speaking, public service, understanding finances and issues of public concern. He does all these things from his heart, with grace and humility.”
Burgess went to school to become a landscaper and was putting in long hours servicing his more than 100 customers by the time he was 23 and married. His brother was a teller at Watertown Savings Bank and suggested Bill get a part-time job there during the winter. It was steady income during a landscaper’s down time and still left him time to plow snow. Eventually, he gave up the landscaping and plowing businesses, but never left the bank.
“The bank itself and my personality perfectly fit,” Burgess said. “It’s a mutual savings bank so it exists for the customers, the community and the employees. I do anything, [including] going to their house if they can’t make it down. The biggest reason I can do so much community service is the bank is focused on it. We don’t have any sales goals.”
Burgess is just as focused on the community as he is on the bottom line. He sees his job description as doing whatever he can to help his customers, even if it’s outside of most people’s idea of what a traditional banker does.
“There was one person who told me she would be able to stay in her house if someone at the bank could just bring her $300 cash every month,” Burgess said “So I did and she stayed in her house another five years. I did some notary stuff too – whatever she needed.”
He’s most proud of the Emerging Leaders program he created with the help of his kids, Christopher and Ashley, and Ashley’s friend Kathleen McLoughlin. The program, which has over 1,000 graduates, teaches high school students how to start, run and market a business. Top students receive a scholarship to study public speaking.
Burgess loves his job, but when he isn’t working or volunteering in the community, he and his wife like to travel and do things that keep him rooted in the community.
“I still do my mother’s lawn,” he said.