Doug Bowen’s is a classic community bank success story.
He joined PeoplesBank 39 years ago as a teller, fresh out of college. He’s worked in just about every department of the bank since then, and he became president in 2007.
In nominating Bowen as a Community Bank Hero, Susan Wilson, first vice president of corporate responsibility, praised Bowen and his leadership team for developing a positive culture at the bank with a new set of corporate values.
“They have focused on developing new and higher levels of employee engagement. Life-work balance, a management development program, employee-led think tanks, and employee recognition events are now all in place,” she wrote. “The bank’s high-performance culture has led to impressive financial performance, enhanced employee retention, product innovations and community service and environmental initiatives.”
“We try to keep it a challenging but rewarding environment, and we’re always keenly aware of trying to balance work with home life. That’s one of our key values,” Bowen said.
But Bowen is also proud of what PeoplesBank has done for its community. PeoplesBank has given around $5 million to local nonprofits over the past six years; its employees volunteer more than 6,000 hours annually; and PeoplesBank officers are represented at more than 120 regional nonprofits.
He rattles off a list of the bank’s local efforts: “We’re helping to build libraries, we’ve funded major capital campaigns for four libraries in the area, we’ve constructed a couple greenhouses at schools, we support different types of innovative programs to educate the very young and increase financial literacy.”
Bowen himself has volunteered for at least 20 different charitable and civic organizations, including the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts, the Holyoke Latino Small Business Program and the Massachusetts Green High-Performance Computing Center Task Force.
For Bowen, it all comes back to the culture.
“Especially as a community bank that’s independent and mutual, our main thrust is to support the community. We don’t have shareholders, we don’t have to worry about Wall Street, so our focus is clearly on our communities and customers and employees and the people we serve,” he said.
Bowen has also engaged PeoplesBank in environmental initiatives. Under his leadership, the bank has built three LEED-certified branches, built three electric car-charging stations free for the community, supported local farmers’ markets and made around $70 million in sustainable financing for wind, solar and hydroelectric projects.
Though he’s proud of the accolades the bank has gathered for “going green,” that’s not the reason he’s steered PeoplesBank in that direction.
“We want to make our region a better and healthier place to live, work, and raise our families,” he said. “We do feel that it’s possible to create a better community through our charitable giving and volunteer efforts. That’s something we’re very passionate about, and it’s that passion that makes us who we are.”