Type “Citizens Bank of Edmond” into the search engine at youtube.com and a few fun Gangnam Style and other videos by the bank’s employees will pop up.
President and Chief Executive Officer Jill Castilla is a fan.
Her 75 employees began shooting, editing and producing the clips a few years ago, when they contributed 2,500 hours of community service, she said.
“Initially, it was just an internal, morale-building thing,” Castilla said, “but then viewers started commenting ‘I want to bank there,’” she said.
Castilla thinks the videos, along with regular cash mobs, make the bank “more approachable, humble and accessible, though remaining credible and competent.”
For the mobs, Citizens at least once monthly gives employees $5 to $20 each to spend at Edmond businesses, including stationery, coffee, oil change and others that are Citizens’ customers.
“Employees,” Castilla said, “end up spending four to five times more than what we give them and, along the way, better understand what small businesses mean to the community and why relationships are important.”
Workers, who own one-third of the bank, are encouraged to wear their corporate shirts on cash mob days, snap photos with retailers and tweet the pictures and their experiences on Twitter.
Citizens has two locations and assets of $250 million. “Our smaller size keeps us nimble, innovative and at the forefront of technology,” Castilla said.
Castilla stepped into her CEO role Jan. 31, after serving four years as executive vice president and working alongside former chief C.H. Wyatt to lead the 103-year-old bank out of hard times.
Citizens has been in Castilla’s stepfather Randy Granzow’s family for four generations now. “I sort of hijacked the legacy,” Castilla said, “and think I appreciate it more than if I were born into it.”
From the bank’s main branch in downtown Edmond, Castilla, 42, recently sat down with The Oklahoman to talk about her life and career. This is an edited transcript:
Q: Tell us about your childhood.
A: I had two hometowns: Okmulgee and Oklahoma City. I grew up and attended school in Okmulgee, with a sister who’s four years younger. Our parents divorced when I was in kindergarten, and our dad, Bill Wallace — who worked as a Realtor and probation and parole officer — lived with us in Okmulgee, where he still lives. Our mom, now Brenda Granzow, moved to the metro area, where she still lives. When I was young, Okmulgee’s population was about 16,000, and (composed) of people from diverse backgrounds, including many teachers, community leaders and others who influenced me. I can relate to “It takes a village.” I made great grades, was a cheerleader and played flute, piccolo and bassoon in the band. From the time my sister and I were young, my dad also had us on the golf course, acquiring that skill. In fact, my sister went to Wichita State on a golf scholarship.
Q: Where’d you go to college?
A: For my undergrad degree, I went to three different schools. I started out at OSU, where I was active in Gamma Phi Beta sorority, student government and other activities. Because I was good in math and science, I was encouraged to pursue chemical engineering/pre-med. I had a President’s Leadership Scholarship and federal grant my first year, but after two years, it was difficult for me financially, though I was working — sacking and carrying out groceries at the Homeland in Stillwater for $2.14 an hour. One shift, at 2 in the morning, a customer who was an Army recruiter encouraged me to enlist in the Army, so I could be an ROTC student and qualify for the GI bill and other benefits. It was like the heavens opened and the angels started singing: “Here’s your way to pay for school without so much struggle.”
Q: How was basic training as a woman?
A: I was in an all-female group of 40, with a male drill sergeant for eight weeks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. My nickname was Smiley. I felt so liberated to have found a way to pay for college that I smiled all the time. Some women got injured and went home and, sadly, some were impregnated by sexually harassing supervisors, who were later exposed. Though I, like everyone else, experienced inappropriate language and touching, I didn’t fall victim. I completed advanced individual instruction as a construction surveyor and enrolled at Texas A&I in Kingsville, because that’s where I found the most scholarship money.
Q: How’d you meet your husband?
A: My first day at A&I. A sociology major, he also was in ROTC and was assigned to me as mentor. We were best friends, and study and workout buddies, for a long time before we started dating. We married after Marcus received his commission in August 1994, thinking he was going to be able to stay there for my senior year. But he got orders to report to Hawaii.
Q: You earned your bachelor’s from Hawaii Pacific University in finance. Why’d you drop engineering?
A: Along with going to school, I was employed in retail at Crazy Shirts, where I enjoyed working with economic data and trend analysis, along with people. My manager there convinced me that business was a science where I could use my strong interpersonal skills. Taking 33 hours a semester, between the main campus and its military base branch where I took night classes, I graduated (and about the same time, became a mom) one and half years later. I started my master’s in economics at OU, while we were still in Hawaii.
Q: What brought you home to Oklahoma?
A: My stepfather suggested I move home and work at Citizens. There was no push or pressure, but I was flattered. I started in operations at minimum wage, while Marcus worked in pharmaceutical sales and as a recruiter/junior military officer, and earned his master’s in international studies at OSU. I worked at the bank four months, before I was accepted to the management development program of the Federal Reserve Bank. I worked seven years at the Federal Reserve’s Oklahoma City branch. I loved the stimulation, ethical standards, leadership development and high level of economic research.
Q: You spent two years as chief financial officer at a community bank in northern Minnesota, before rejoining Citizens in July 2009. What was the impetus for the hiatus?
A: I was recruited to Minnesota by a friend I met through the University of Wisconsin’s Graduate School of Banking in Madison, where we both studied for two weeks every year for three years. The Minnesota bank had been in his family for four generations. I started thinking about my family’s bank and that community banking might be a good fit for me over time. Then, two years into my Minnesota job, my stepfather called me and asked me to come back because his bank was at risk. I’ve never been so scared in my life. But we were able to come out of it, by first quarter 2012, without laying off people or adding capital. Among other things, we sold three properties, which gave us $6.5 million in liquid assets. Today, we have specially equipped ATMs at those former sites, where our customers can teleconference with tellers at our two branches. Moreover, we and our partner, OrderMatic Corp. in Del City, now are sharing the technology we developed with other banks.