Interview conducted by Lisa Marcus, Zions Bancorporation Regional Recruiting Manager
We recently sat down with California Bank & Trust (CB&T) Executive Director of Core Banking, Ben Alvarado, to find out what makes him unique, what inspires him and why he loves working at CB&T.
You started with the company at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic; how did this impact your new hire experience?
I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. People quickly started looking to me for guidance. You see people’s true colors and how they handle things in times of crisis, and I’d say we handled it very well. Getting to know people and building relationships during an unprecedented time was rewarding. I was able to immediately connect with employees on a deeper level, which made my onboarding experience that much more enjoyable.
Now that you are here, what is your vision for the future of Core Banking?
We are a unified group with a unified vision—we are here to serve! It’s more than a smile or a returned phone call. What differentiates us is our knowledge-based approach to everything we do. This mindset will allow us to add value to our customers, our employees and the communities we serve.
What makes you a unique person?
Although, I do not think this is unique, and my family makes fun of me for my competitiveness, I enjoy endurance sports and testing my limits. I enjoy seeing what I am capable of by challenging my mental and physical self. I am a distance runner, CrossFit enthusiast and hiker. I recently discovered prone paddle boarding and did five miles in the ocean, and completed a 50-mile virtual ride for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. I love raising the bar each time.
How do you advocate for diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
I am a second-generation, U.S.-born Mexican-American. Many Hispanic children are not fortunate enough to grow up in families that worked in a corporate environment, and many do not have the guidance or resources necessary for developing a career. For me, graduating high school was a major accomplishment. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend California State University, Long Beach for my undergrad and then Pepperdine University for my MBA.
When I graduated college, I had no idea the heights I could reach when given the opportunity to work at a bank. I kept thinking, "I don't see a lot of managers that look like me," but I knew I could help change that. Now, I teach diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace at Pepperdine University. Concurrently, I serve on the board of the Orange County United Way where I am a chairperson for a new DEI initiative called "Cultures United." I also mentor Hispanic college seniors getting ready to enter the professional workforce at my alma mater. Through my own experiences, I am now able to give back and help set up others for a successful future.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Staying married for 23 years! I also have two really cool kids who are kind, smart and thoughtful. They keep me motivated as I continue to work on myself and take on bigger challenges. A lot of the work I have done over the years is based in positive self-talk. I wake up every day ready to accept the challenges that come my way. If I fail, then at least I still learn from it. Do not be afraid to set the bar higher and surround yourself with people who believe in you, push you, support and encourage you!
Why do you love working at CB&T?
Our culture of caring! No matter what happens, we take care of our people. We watch out for one another here. Even through the onset of the Paycheck Protection Program and navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, the support provided to our employees and customers was impressive. The guidance from leadership and the trust in our employees has helped create an environment where I‘m able to thrive! It is so welcoming. And while I haven’t been here that long, I feel very at home at CB&T. [cite::171::cite] [cite::172::cite]