As the VP of Operations, Chris Zike keeps a guiding hand on a variety of departments, including loan, fraud, electronic banking, and deposit operations.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Meeting after meeting! Day to day, you’ll find me working on various projects to ensure we’re working as efficiently as we can, whether that’s partnering with new vendors or developing proposals to senior management. I work closely with the VP of retail and the head of our customer care center, making sure everything is running smoothly and we’re all acting as a team.
How do you foster a team culture at Citizens Bank?
One thing is to be physically present in the department; I’m very visible. I check in with people periodically and I attend a lot of regularly scheduled meetings with supervisors and we have frequent audits to keep us on track. I enjoy fostering collaboration and being available to answer questions at any time. I really love being social with my team—we love to eat, and we host regular pitch-ins.
Tell us about the pitch-ins!
About 20 of us will bring dishes to share; technically it’s for lunch, but we start at 8 in the morning with nachos, meatballs and anything else you could imagine. We don’t see customers in our department, so we can have food at our desks and just enjoy time together. My team always asks me to bring my buffalo chicken dip and my famous cheese ball. Getting together and sharing food like this is a small thing, but it makes a big impact in building a team.
What part of your day lights you up?
Just being at work since the pandemic has been a joy. I really don’t like working from home. I’m a people person and an open book, and there’s a respect and closeness with my colleagues that I truly enjoy. I’m here at work early and usually one of the last to leave.
It sounds like you love your job!
I’ve been with Citizens Bank for 32 years and I have never once thought about leaving or going anywhere else. I’ve served under three bank presidents, and I’ve always felt that management and the board cares for their staff. They live their mission as a community bank and genuinely care about their employees and our customers. We continue to give customers the service that some of the bigger banks can’t. Whenever a customer picks up the phone to call us, it’s never hard to get a real person on the line to help.
What would coworkers be surprised to learn about you?
I love to sing. I sang in high school, and I used to sing at weddings and funerals. When I was young, that was my dream career, but life took a different path. I still sing, however, and I serve as a worship leader at church and sing every week. I like all kinds of music—pop is my favorite to listen to—but when it comes to singing, for me, my preference is gospel music.
Where is your happy place?
I am a family person. My family dynamic has changed—we lost my brother in 2019. He was my baby brother and that loss just affirmed that family is the most important aspect of my life. I enjoy getting together for dinners, or at the lake where my parents live just kayaking, fishing, and hanging out together.