From my early days on the research team as a wealth management advisor, to now leading the team at Greenleaf Trust, I have experienced many times the value that diversity of background and thought have added to the work we do on behalf of our clients and how we collaborate with teammates. It’s the main reason we serve clients with three-person client-centric teams supported by the larger team. I believe in the proverb that “two heads are better than one.”

I had the chance over the past Labor Day weekend to contextually discuss this belief with dear long-time clients from Florida who were at our house for dinner. We had just dropped off our youngest son for his freshman year at Montana State University, and they were asking what he wanted to study. As required by most universities, before entry he had picked a major. But I could tell there were still questions in his mind about how this choice would apply to his future. My oldest son, recently graduated from Michigan State University, was also wondering how to apply his area of study. My advice to both was to pursue studies or work that interests you the most and makes you happy. If you can, that’s where you will be your best. I used my experiences with building teams at Greenleaf Trust and feedback from the team itself to back up this insightful fatherly advice.

Yes, Greenleaf Trust is a bank. We are not a bank, though, populated only by finance majors who cut their professional teeth in the financial services industry. Instead, we are a talent-based company that has built a team with a diversity of educations, backgrounds, experiences, and thoughts. A team of people who have pursued their interests and found alignment working together and serving others.

Not surprisingly, most of our team were finance or accounting majors in college. Our team’s range of studies in college also includes biomedical sciences, psychology, mathematics, Spanish, English, political science, funeral services, and elementary education. The vast majority of our team have bachelor’s degrees, with many also having earned master’s degrees, but not all master’s in business administration (MBA). With our largest team location in Kalamazoo, Michigan, we do have a sizable population that attended Western Michigan University. Over thirty other universities are represented by our team as well.

After formal schooling, our team gained a wide breadth of knowledge from past work experiences before coming to Greenleaf Trust. In addition to those with former banking and financial services experience, some of the more represented backgrounds include accounting, marketing, education, real estate, retail, sales, food service and law.

When I ask teammates about other parts of their backgrounds that they believe add to the value of the work they do on behalf of our clients and alongside their teammates there is obvious alignment. They mention lessons and skills learned in communication, empathy, listening, organization, quality, working with diverse teams, and collectively finding the love of serving others.

Did most of our team set out to become bankers? I hope not. That would be weird. Did they ultimately find a passion and place to put their heads together with others and share their talents, experiences and thoughts to help others? I think they did.