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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. After seven great years as an examiner at FCA, I left to join a commercial bank as a relationship manager. But I missed working at FCA. I missed the comradery and the work-life balance, and I missed working in agriculture, so I decided to come back a year later. I now work as a trainer, which I really enjoy because it challenges me in new ways.

“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 Staff Development Division and serve in the capacity of training others. When I joined FCA in 2008, I started off in this 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.

“I currently train and mentor associate examiners in their first few years here at the agency. I also aid in developing and revamping formal training courses for associate examiners that align with our commissioning program, as well as serve as an instructor for some of the classes. Being a trainer and mentor has been a wonderful experience in many ways. I enjoy working in staff development because the work is challenging and rewarding.  

“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 associate examiners that I’m working with on an assignment or from Staff Development Division managers. Then I like to read the news clips, association reports, crop updates, and status reports from within our agency. 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. As a trainer, a lot of my day is spent answering questions from associate examiners, sitting in on conversations with association personnel, and reviewing work the associate examiners submit to me.

“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, when I was an examiner-in-charge, I had the opportunity to give board presentations and speak in front of executive management teams and board members. Even though I am not currently an examiner-in-charge, I hone my public speaking skills by instructing formal training courses.

“Travel time ebbs and flows. As a trainer, my travel is much more frequent than when I was an examiner-in-charge.

“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 inner workings 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 July 7, 2017