Class of 2008
Robin Gohman didn't think she had a chance when she interviewed to be a retail banker at Liberty at age 21. Instead, it was the start of a spectacular career.
What are you doing now?
I am with the same company as I was with at the time I received the 5 Under 40 recognition. I am a senior vice president for Liberty Savings Bank.
How did the 5 Under 40 award affect your life?
The 5 Under 40 recognition is an acknowledged award that puts you in a class of distinguished professionals. In my office I have the award displayed and people always comment about the significance of it.
Other big changes since you received the award?
I have had the opportunity to continue to grow with Liberty. Additionally, I am serving as a commissioner at the St. Cloud HRA and a board member with the Central Minnesota Builders Association.
What will make the St. Cloud area greater in coming years?
The continued dedication and hard work of the folks in this community.
Originally ran: January 1, 2009
It was a chilly Tuesday night when Robin Gohman showed up for an interview with President Mark Bragelman at Liberty Savings Bank. She was 21 years old, still studying finance at St. Cloud State University. When she sat down to answer his questions, Bragelman had on his desk a mile-high pile of resumes. Gulp. She didn't have a chance at this job, she thought.
But he called the next day. She got the job as a retail banker. Almost 15 years later, she has made her mark at the company, and in the community, as a leader.
The Sauk Rapids native sat down for an interview recently. She is gracious and grateful, always going back to the opportunities given to her. She speaks fondly of Bragelman, a mentor who has always given her those opportunities.
She has been someone the company can trust. In 1997 she began running a branch on the west side of St. Cloud — a big promotion just two years after she got the job as a banker.
Since the late 1990s, she has been running branches and other operations. For a while, she worked in the bank's lending operations in downtown St. Cloud. She's now senior vice president, which means she is in charge of new product developments, marketing, community outreach and other efforts.
But it isn't the positions she has held that makes her special; it's who she is. She's a voracious reader, Bragelman said. She reads The Wall Street Journal cover-to-cover every day. And when it came time to buy a new computer system, her research and smarts led to investing $1 million into a system that will let the company double its current size without having to buy a new system, he said.
She never stops asking the question "Why not?"
Last year the company opened a branch in south St. Cloud. That area used to be a place where people would drink coffee at restaurants such as Happy Chef and Nathan B's. Gohman said they should put in a coffee shop so people could continue their tradition.
Gohman has become an expert on affordable housing and has helped local agencies find housing for low- and moderate-income home-buyers. She's also involved in the community and her industry. She is a member of the Child Care Choices board of directors and is the chairwoman for the Central Minnesota Builders Association builders expo, which provides information for local builders. She's also a member of the Freddie Mac lender advisory board.
Sure, she's worked hard, she says. But Gohman never starts her business day without acknowledging the opportunities she's been given, or without thinking of the opportunities in front of her.
She always stops to remember who is most important: The customer. If it weren't for the customers, she says, we would have no reason to be here. She's glad that, during a recession and a rough time for the banking industry, she is part of a responsible lending operation. The bank is well-capitalized — its risk-based capital ratio is 16.22, according to bank rating company BauerFinancial, and anything above 10 is considered solid.
And she has fun. Next to her office door are two guitars: One from a concert sponsored by her bank, another as a personal gift, signed by members of one of her favorite bands, Fleetwood Mac.
Perhaps one of her most striking attributes is her humility. When asked about her leadership style, she says she looks for the good in people. She is someone who sets clear expectations and priorities — that gives people confidence, she says, because they don't have to wonder whether what they're doing is right or enough.
Gohman knows the value of long-term relationships, of valuing others' opinions and input, and of hard work. She says integrity is extremely important. "That is everything," she said.
Thinking back to that cold evening as a student and nervous interviewee, she stops to reflect a moment on how far she's come. What else would she do if she weren't in banking? She has never taken time to think about doing any other job, she says. That's how much she loves it.
Still, she comes back to how much she has grown. She lists the principles that guide her:
"Don't lose track of what you think is important," she said. "Be thankful and don't ever forget ... where you came from."
Job: Senior vice president, Liberty Savings Bank.
Family: Husband, Scott; two boys, 3-year-old Tommy and 6-year-old Matt.
Hometown: Sauk Rapids.
Education: Working toward her bachelor's degree in finance at St. Cloud State University.
What she does for fun: Goes to movies, reads, hangs out with friends, spends time with family.
Favorite book: Aristotle's "Nicomachean Ethics."
What's in her desk drawer: An interest calculator, Post-it notes, a Freddie Mac pen, a thank-you note from a customer, 27 red pens and a gold poster-paint marker just in case a band comes to town and can sign a guitar.