“Don’t ever compromise who you are.” —Shannon Jones, Chief People Officer, First Bank
Shannon Jones lights up a room. As Chief People Officer managing a human resources department for the largest locally-owned bank in the state (over 3,000 employees), Jones is no stranger to creating connections and community. She not only manages a complex organization with grace and joy but also happens to be at the helm of one of the most diverse banking teams in the nation.
These are only a few of the hundreds of reasons we chose to sit down with her to gain some sage advice and career tips and learn the last time she failed forward.
As the Chief People Officer of FirstBank, what is your top career advice to young professionals?
“Don’t ever compromise who you are.” There are so many standards to live up to today. Sometimes the pressures of life can weigh on us, causing us to lose ourselves. Don’t let this happen! Learn everything about yourself, your strengths, weaknesses, areas for growth, etc. Own who you are. Then, you will show up as your true self, wholly and authentically.
What was your last “aha” moment?
As a working mom, I always wonder about the impact I make on my daughters’ lives. Early in my career, I often felt guilty for progressing in my career and not spending as much time with them. As I became more tenured, I started to realize the important example I am setting for my daughters. My oldest, now 21 and a senior in college, recently came to me with some exciting news. She was elected to the board for the African Student Alliance at her school. In her words, “I joined a board, just like you.” This brought tears to my eyes and made me realize that while I may not have been as present as much as I wanted to be, I still made an impact on my girls’ lives.
If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Family is very important to me. If I didn’t have to sleep, I would spend the extra time with my two daughters and my mom. After losing my father seven years ago, I realize how precious time is with our loved ones. You can never relive yesterday, and tomorrow is not promised. We have to make the most of today. My girls are my world, and I am always intentional with my time with them. With my mother in her late 70s, I want to make sure I cherish the moments she is still here.
Describe an instance when you “failed forward?”
The year 2010 was one of the most challenging years in my career. I was working for a new boss in a new market, and both were challenging. I had one of the worst production years, which I considered failing. I had completely lost who I was. I remember going into my year-end review prepared to tell my boss that I would no longer be this lost person I had become. I also told him he would see the real me going forward. From then on, I gained the respect I deserved and my confidence re-surfaced.
Who do you always turn to for advice?
Honestly, I am a woman of faith, so I always rely on God for advice. Whether I need guidance spiritually, professionally, or personally, I can always get the answer I need and know the direction to take. Without my faith, I would not be the woman I am today.