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Brianna Tomlinson
Examiner
Denver, Colorado

"One of the best things about working at FCA is knowing that we play an important role in agriculture and in providing safe and sound credit to farmers and ranchers across the U.S. It's rewarding to see the role we play in the big picture."

Brianna Tomlinson"I came to FCA right out of college in 2008. I went to Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, and I started to work at FCA about a month after I graduated. I just celebrated my five-year anniversary recently.

"I heard about the agency from a college friend who graduated a year ahead of me and went to work at FCA. She talked very highly of FCA, and when I went to the career fair at CSU, I met others from the agency who told me about the advantages of working here. Of the job offers I received right out of college, FCA offered the best flexibility and benefits.

"I have a B.S. in economics and a minor in finance, so FCA was right up my alley. I was leaning more towards the private sector, but the benefits at FCA caught my eye, as well as the good work-life balance.

"I did not come from a farming background. I think it's easier to join FCA without the agricultural background than without the finance background. FCA has a robust training program, and what's great is that they teach you everything you need to know—you just need to be coachable.

"Currently I work in the Association Examination Division. I started off in the Staff Development Division, where all new examiners begin their career, and successfully completed the training program and passed the commissioning test in 2011.

"Upon passing the commissioning test, I had the opportunity to act as the examiner-in-charge of one of the largest associations in the System within the Market Risk Division. It was a very challenging, yet rewarding, experience—one that afforded me great learning opportunities as a newly commissioned examiner. I worked closely with a senior examiner who had been at FCA for many years. He is now retired, so I feel privileged to have worked with him and learned from him.

"Recently I also had the opportunity to train new examiners. That was a great experience in many ways. It honed my examiner skills by having me teach those same skills to the new hires, and it also opened my eyes to what goes on behind the scenes. I have a newfound respect for trainers and the amount of time and effort it takes to prepare and deliver effective training. There is a lot to learn throughout the commissioning process, and the trainers deserve kudos for the work they put in to make sure that examiners get the information they need to do the job.

"FCA's writing style was probably the most challenging aspect for me to get used to as it is very different from college writing. It's a deductive style. As a regulator, we state our conclusions first, whereas in college you're told to put the conclusion at the end. My writing can be a bit wordy, so it was hard to get used to stating very concisely what my conclusion was up front and then supporting that conclusion in the body of the document.

"When I'm in the office, a typical day starts with checking emails and following up on communication from my association or management. Then I like to read the News Clips and any new guidance that's come out. After I do those things, every day is different.

"When I'm on-site, a typical day is a nine-hour workday. If we're looking at loans, we generally pull a loan sample and work through the list. There's always a group of examiners, and we all look at loans together and bounce ideas and concerns off of one another. We generally spend the whole week looking at loans and talking to loan officers, relationship managers, management, and sometimes to the board.

"If we're not looking at loans, we're probably concentrating on one of the CAMELS areas—capital, assets, management, earnings, liquidity, or sensitivity. We also look at board governance, compensation and other areas based on a risk-based approach. It just depends on what the examiner-in-charge needs from us that week. And we're typically busy from the time we sit down until the time we leave the site. Staying busy keeps it interesting.

"My credit and finance skills have improved since I joined FCA, but what surprised me is that my written communication has greatly improved, too. Needless to say, we do a lot of writing as regulators. My public speaking skills have also improved because, as examiners-in-charge, we have the opportunity to give board presentations and speak in front of executive management teams and board members. That's my favorite part of the job. I've also been a mentor and a coach to some of the new examiners, and that's helped improve my leadership skills.

"Travel time has decreased since I've been off the training team. Then it was close to 50, maybe 60, percent sometimes. But now I'd probably say I travel once a month. When we do travel, we're generally gone from Monday through Friday, so I'd say I'm gone from 25 to 40 percent of the time right now.

"I thought initially that the travel would be difficult—you know, constantly being on airplanes and in airports. But in all honesty, it hasn't been. Once you've done it a couple of times, you get in the groove. Plus, you constantly get to go to different places. There are definitely better locations than others, but traveling with a team of examiners from across the different field offices gives you a chance to get out of your comfort zone, meet new people, and try new things.

"One of the best things about working at FCA is knowing that we play an important role in agriculture and in providing safe and sound credit to farmers and ranchers across the U.S. It's rewarding to see the role we play in the big picture.

"Plus, FCA examiners really have a unique opportunity to go—right out of college—and talk face to face with executive management teams and with boards of directors. These are people with years and years of experience and we get to learn from them as soon as we are hired on—there are not many places where you can say that as a new employee. I've always tried to surround myself with people who are more experienced or more knowledgeable because that's really how you're going to learn.

"Another benefit is getting to go on farm tours. It's great to get out there and see what the farmers are doing across the U.S. Not coming from a farming background, I was unfamiliar with the efficiencies and interworkings of farm operations. When a farm tour opportunity arises, I am always eager to participate. Each operation is fascinating and unique. There is some great work being done out in the field, and to be able to witness it first-hand is a priceless experience."

Updated September 13, 2013