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Business

Women of Achievement: Faith Anderson believes in a continuous-learner mind-set

Faith Anderson, vice president of human resources at Farmers State Bank (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Faith Anderson, vice president of human resources at Farmers State Bank (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Faith Anderson is an example of how experiential learning can be just as valuable as a four-year degree.

By actively seeking out learning opportunities throughout her career, Anderson has advanced in the human resources profession and earned a role as an integral member of her company’s executive leadership team.

“I didn’t wait for someone to mentor me,” she said. “I’ve gone out and found someone to have those conversations with. I’ve been fortunate to work for great organizations where opportunities have opened for me to continue to learn and grow.”

A graduate of Kirkwood Community College, Anderson began her career as one of the first employees of Genencor International during the industrial biotechnology company’s start-up phase.

Hired as an administrative assistant to the plant manager, Anderson’s role quickly expanded after she volunteered to help the human resources manager set up new employee interviews.

“That’s where I entered the HR area,” Anderson recalled. “The need was greater there.”

Anderson’s job at Genencor continued to evolve as she accepted more responsibilities and took on special projects. She ultimately was promoted to human resources manager.

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“I did what I had to do to move my career along,” she said. “I traveled internationally. I relocated to Rochester, N.Y., for two years.”

In 2007, Anderson joined Farmers State Bank in Marion as vice president of human resources, where today she serves as a strategic business partner to the executive management team.

During her tenure, she has led the development of a number of key programs, including the strategic planning process, succession plan, total rewards structure, and training and career development initiatives.

“I am fortunate to have a seat at the table and have a direct impact on the business and its strategies for growth through people and structure,” she said.

Under Anderson’s leadership, the business has grown organically by over 45 percent while staff levels have remained steady, turnover has declined by 30 percent and is 50 percent below the industry average, and over 60 percent of promotional opportunities have been filled internally.

The company also regularly appears on “top workplaces” lists and its 401(k) plan, which Anderson oversees, has been named “best in class.”

Anderson views her role at Farmers State Bank to help the business and its people be successful.

“What drives me as a leader is finding out what people are passionate about and helping them find their way,” she said.

Her drive to help others succeed extends to Anderson’s community service work, which includes serving on the board of directors for House of Hope, a not-for-profit organization that provides programming and housing for women.

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“House of Hope’s mission is to empower and equip women to live their best lives,” Anderson said. “It’s something that relates well to my position in human resources.”

While humble about her accomplishments, Anderson credits her continuous-learner mind-set for getting her to where she is today.

“People can be very successful by continuing to learn in everything they do,” she said. “You may not have a master’s degree, but you can go far with hard work, internal motivation and continuous learning.”

• Once a month, Business 380 spotlights some of HER magazine’s Women of Achievement, published by The Gazette. The awards were sponsored by Farmers State Bank.

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