Linda Tuten is the Executive Vice President and Chief People & Diversity Officer at Origin Bank responsible for all Human Resources and Training and Development functions of the organization. She is an HR leader that focuses on people starting with employees and extending to the customer experience.
Q: Where were you born?
A: Mansfield, LA
Q: What was your childhood like?
A: I’m glad I grew up in a small town with a strong sense of community. We knew most everyone. I was a tomboy and stayed outdoors as much as possible. I love horses, dogs, cats, sports, hunting, fishing, and music. I grew up with most of the same kids from K-12. I was a cheerleader, and took piano lessons, played in symphony band and sang in church choir. Having many pets and horses instilled a sense of responsibility for their care and provided joy and adventures as well. We also had many chores around the house and yard starting at a young age.
Q: Do you have any siblings?
A: Yes, an older sister and older brother.
Q: What did your parents do for a living?
A: My father was Sheriff of DeSoto Parish and my mother was a registered nurse.
Q: How did your parents influence you as a child?
A: They instilled strong Christian values, respect for others regardless of their status, a powerful sense of responsibility, an intense work ethic, patriotism, honesty, and a powerful sense of service. They met and married during WWII while they were serving in the army in New Caledonia in the South Pacific. My mom was an army nurse. She gave me a love of reading and gardening that have blessed my life. They both came from poor families and their grit and determination allowed them to work their way to successful careers. They were loved and respected and each helped many people during their lifetime.
Q: Was there a watershed moment that occurred during your childhood that shaped the person you are today?
A: Not really one standout moment I can think of in my childhood. There were many experiences, good and bad that impacted me. The strength and faith my parents exhibited during adversity was a major factor in my development. Death threats were made against my father during a contentious rape trial and deputies stayed at our house to protect us while my dad was at the courthouse dealing with protestors. It was a scary time but my folks stayed calm and reassured us everything would be okay. In another instance, my dad faced down armed robbers who had broken in a family’s home, kidnapped the family and held them hostage. Daddy successfully negotiated the family’s release. He was highlighted on local and national news and called by well-known newscaster, Harry Reasoner, which was impressive for someone from our small town. We were worried he would be shot but his calmness, courage and strength steadied him and us throughout the ordeal. Seeing my mother juggle all the responsibilities and challenges of career, wife, mother, etc. also shaped the person I am today.
Q: Where did you go to college?
A: Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, LA
Q: What was your major?
Q: Why did you go into the HR Field?
A: I was intrigued by the opportunity, variety, and challenge of HR. There are so different tracks you can take in HR. You have an opportunity to make a positive impact on the company and the staff. Recruiting top talent is getting more and more competitive.
Q: What is the financial industry doing in order to attract top talent to the financial sector?
A: At Origin Bank, our culture attracts and retains top talent. We encourage building strong partnerships with our customers that focus on doing what is best for them, not just making money for the bank. Our core values attract people who have respect for themselves and others, a strong work ethic, and individual initiative. We also like to have fun! In addition we have our Project Enrich program which gives full-time employees up to 20 hours of paid time each year during work hours to volunteer within the communities we serve.
Q: Is your approach in attracting millennials different from other generation candidates?
A: Project Enrich, our community involvement, company core values, and offering career development opportunities are features that attract millennials. We provide competitive salary and benefits. We’ve been recognized for 10 years as being the Best Bank in the Delta in our core market area. We’ve also been recognized for four years as being one of the Best Banks to Work For by the American Bankers’ Association. This recognition helps our recruitment efforts. We are focused on providing more frequent feedback to our employees and that’s important to millennials job engagement.
Q: Can you talk about Origin Bank’s commitment to promoting and bringing more high potential women employees into leadership roles?
A: We have many females in senior level roles but we have not had the success I would like to see. We have recruited several females for higher profile positions who moved on to other opportunities. We are focused on mentoring females who have a desire to grow as leaders through an expanded focus on coaching and career development.
Q: How has technology impacted business since you first started with the bank?
A: Technology is a key driver for our growth and customer satisfaction; you must have excellent mobile aps to provide the options for customers require today. We also invest heavily in IT security to protect our customers.
Q: How important is a company’s culture to ensure its growth and success?
A: Culture is critical for recruitment, retention, and job engagement.
Q: What is unique about Origin Bank vs. your competitors?
A: Culture is the main differentiator. We focus on our customers’ needs and building lasting advisory relationships based on meeting their needs as opposed to pushing products. Creating a great employee experience is another key component of our Culture.
Q: Can you give us an example of a company (outside of the banking industry) whose culture you admire?
Q: If you had to pick one quality you believe is essential to succeed in business, what would that be?
Q: What is your greatest strength as a leader?
A: The ability to balance my compassion and empathy for others and my responsibility as an executive to ensure we meet our business objectives.
Q: What is your philosophy on building an effective team?
A: Be fair, set clear expectations and hold people accountable. Set a good example. Show them that you truly care about them. Ask for their input. Provide support and opportunities for growth.
Q: What was the most difficult decision you have had to make in business?
A: Recommending the termination of an employee I really liked.
Q: What has been the most difficult decision you have had to make in your personal life?
A: Getting a divorce.
Q: Who is your personal hero?
A: My mother.
Q: Who is your professional hero?
A: My father is first. Napoleon Hill next.
Q: Define Success.
Success is an ongoing journey with many points of significance along the way. Having a job I enjoy and find rewarding. Achieving many professional and personal goals including being the first female company spokesperson in contract negotiations for a Fortune 500 wood products company and the first female Chief Executive officer at Origin Bank. Persevering through several major personal and career setbacks. Serving others by engaging in numerous mission and outreach activities and church work. Raising two wonderful daughters. The blessings of a wonderful marriage and family, loyal friends, strong professional relationships, and a top-notch work team.
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Tough times never last, but tough people do. Robert Schuller