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For Brenda Aranda, the path to becoming a branch manager at the Sunrise Avenue location in Roseville, Calif., was anything but traditional.
Six years ago, Aranda was working behind the meat counter at the grocery store that houses the U.S. Bank Sunrise Avenue branch. It was a dream job of sorts. As an immigrant from Mexico, it was her first real job with benefits since receiving a work authorization permit via the Dream Act while putting herself through college. Naturally, she got to know her regular lunch hour customers, including employees from the onsite U.S. Bank branch. When an entry-level position opened, she was encouraged to apply. The appeal of a higher wage, expanded benefits and flexibility enticed her. She joined the branch team shortly thereafter as a teller and began learning the ropes of banking.
“In school I was focused on becoming a teacher and I didn’t foresee a career in banking, but I realized really soon I was pretty good at sales and understanding our customers’ needs,” Aranda said. “My manager helped me take my passion for teaching and apply that to banking, that’s when I realized that being a Branch Manager was on my roadmap.”
At the time, Aranda was balancing life as a single mother – and appreciated the flexibility U.S. Bank provided to toggle between working full-time at times to part time with shifts to accommodate her daughter’s schedule. Flexibility wasn’t something she was used to.
“She would have a line of customers that only wanted to see her. She had a notebook with handwritten appointments, long before that was something we offered customers,” said Jason Sims, Brenda’s former manager who now serves as a Digital Lead for the bank. “I could immediately tell she was amazing. She always had the customers’ best interest in mind and she was such a hard worker.”
During one of his first coaching sessions with Aranda, she arrived in his office visibly nervous and on the verge of tears. She was asking for a schedule change to accommodate her new school schedule and was concerned it would cost her her job.
“We simply made a scheduling change and she was so grateful we did this one small thing for her. For us, that’s how we do business and treat people, but it just wasn’t something she was used to in a workplace,” Sims shared.
At U.S. Bank, Aranda found a workplace and culture that values wellness and work/life balance. One of the many reasons the bank continues to earn spots on the Working Mother 100 Best Companies list.
Her path as a working mother was intentional, yet a stark contrast from the traditional Latino household she was used to. Aranda’s family immigrated to the United States from Mexico when she was five. Her father worked long hours to provide for his family while her mother stayed home watching over Brenda and her sister. However, Aranda’s parents had a different plan for their daughters when they arrived in America - one where Brenda could be financially independent, stable and pursue a career.
She started working at 15 years old, bought a car in cash at age 16, and hasn’t stopped working since. From the very beginning, her father taught her how to budget. If she brought $60 home from a job, he’d say this much is for gas, this is for the phone bill, and she could pocket whatever was left. Aranda’s father also viewed his daughters’ ability to put themselves through college as a first step to financial independence.
At the age of 18, Aranda began college courses on her own dime, all with a young daughter by her side. However, with non-citizen status she quickly learned she wasn’t eligible for financial aid and knew that on the other side of her education it would be incredibly challenging to begin a professional career beyond manual labor.
That was nearly 10 years ago and right around when the DREAM Act was introduced, which included the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA), allowing Aranda the opportunity to apply for a driver’s license, a work authorization permit, and financial aid because she was a registered college student. This changed everything..
Fast forward to today: Aranda recently became the Branch Manager of the same location where she started her journey in banking – the Sunrise Avenue in-store branch in Roseville. She’s become a U.S. citizen, and managed to purchase a home for her family in the process - two things she is incredibly proud of.
“All of these experiences have helped me become a better leader.” Aranda said. “I lead my team with empathy, understanding and appreciation for the gift of opportunity to pursue your dreams and chart your own path – no matter the circumstances or obstacles.”
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