An Interview with Director Patti Temple Rocks

by Robert DiCosola


Patti Temple Rocks has been a Director of Old Second Bancorp since 2015. She is a member of the Board’s Compensation Committee and IT Steering Commit- tee. She has had a distinguished career in the Advertising, Marketing and Communications space, and has held various leadership positions for some industry-leading corporations.

Her most recent role was Managing Director/Client Innovation Officer for Golin, a global communications agency. Previous career highlights include Vice President of Public Affairs, Brand and Reputation for The Dow Chemical Company, and Chief Reputation Officer for Leo Burnett Worldwide. Currently, Patti is Founder and Head of Temple Rocks Consulting, where she is utilizing her marketing and communications experience and expertise for clients looking for growth, both for their business and of their people.

“Patti, with your many years of experience in advertising, marketing and communications, talk to us about how that experience has translated into helpful perspectives and insights as a director for a financial institution.”

PTR: “My background is certainly different than some of the other directors, many of whom are from the financial services industry. My approach at first was to listen closely to the issues and challenges facing the Bank at the Board level, and then make contributions within my areas of expertise. I think that (Board members from) different industries are very relevant to the overall decision

making because of the different perspectives they bring. For example, I noticed that the consumer challenges facing the banking industry are similar to those facing other industries—how to market their products and services to the Millennial demographic and to Gen Z–the next generation after Millennials–and how predictive analytics can play a role in that decision-making process.”

“When you were initially approached as a possible candidate for Old Second’s Board of Directors, what were some of your thoughts out of the gate? What ultimately led you to accept the directorship?”

PTR: “I was intrigued, to say the least, as one of my long-term personal goals has been to serve on a publicly traded board of directors. I did have some concern about my lack of direct experience in financial services but I also knew that in today’s complex environment, boards are expected to ask questions and challenge the status quo to some extent, and not simply be a rubber stamp. I could tell from my conversations with the Bank’s management and other directors that there were highly capable people guiding the Bank with deep financial experience. I felt confident that I could add something differ- ent and hopefully complementary to what they already had. With that perspective, I was honored to say yes to the OSBC opportunity.”

“What would you say are three of the most critical competencies, characteristics or credentials of an effective Board member?”

PTR: “Curiosity is one of the most important…As Board members, we need to have the capacity to ask thought-provoking and challenging questions. (For example): ‘If we didn’t do that, what might happen?’

“Another important characteristic is empa- thy. As directors, we can add value by considering the perspective of customers and employees. At the end of the day, an unengaged employee base will almost always result in disappointed customers. If we can assist Bank management with insights regarding the overall customer experience, that’s a value-add.”

“The last one would be preparation. It’s never a good idea to attend a board or committee meeting blind, without advance preparation. When I first started with the Bank’s Board, there were a zillion acronyms I had to familiarize myself with, such as the OCC and OREO loans and many others that were simply not a part of my normal vocabulary. I couldn’t pretend that I knew what these were…I needed clarification so that I could be conversant and relevant to the discussion. I am very grateful that my fellow directors were very patient with me as I asked questions!”

“Diversity and Inclusion is an important reality for successful companies these days, including here at Old Second. Can you give us some examples of how D/I played an important role in a company’s success?”

PTR: “Without question, Diversity is essential to a company’s success, but not in a numbers-oriented, quota-based way. And there is no Inclusion without Diversity, and vice versa. In an effort to become more diverse, companies need to be careful to not make inappropriate hires that ultimately become bad hires—and often at no fault of the person hired. A diverse hire who is not on-boarded with care is never going to feel included in the organization. Companies need to take even greater care to make sure they have an inclusive environment to welcome the diverse hires into.

“I also believe very strongly in a broad view of Diversity. It is not simply skin color, gender or sexual preference. The best practice today is a workplace that not only looks different from the outside but is also one that values a variety of experiences and perspectives. For me, personally, I believe it is much more important to value my career experiences and insights as a working mom and a 50+ professional than simply the fact that I’m a female. One example that comes to mind is from the auto industry in the 1980’s…- Ford engineers developed ‘pregnancy bellies’ and asked their design engineers to wear them to understand how to design cars for families—including families with pregnant women. While their intentions were good and they got a lot of good PR for the effort, why not just hire some competent women engineers instead of outfitting the men?

“A workforce segment that seems to be getting overlooked these days, and a particular passion of mine, is the older worker. I’m writing a book that addresses this issue: #I’m Not- Done: It’s Time to Talk about Ageism in the Workplace. We must work to remove the stereotype that some workers lose value and relevance after a certain age.”

“What positive signs do you see going forward for the banking industry? What about challenges?”

PTR: “With the greatly improving economy, the future is looking much brighter for financial institutions. The days of banks being constantly slammed and criticized appear to be over, and trust has been established again. That’s the good news, but one of the challenges I see is providing relevant banking experiences to the generations coming up. Traditional brick-and-mortar banks simply are not an important part of their lives…Everything they do banking-wise is mobile, digital. This is very different from previous generations who still prefer one-on-one, in- person transactions. This will require entirely different approaches to what we offer and how we do it to ensure that the services the Bank provide are valued by all these age groups.”

“What makes Old Second Bank’s Mission meaningful to you?”

PTR: I would describe Old Second’s Mission in one word: authentic. You can determine a lot about a company’s culture if you would just ‘turn off the volume and watch the movie.’ I guess another way of saying that is pay attention to what I do, not just what I say. From my experience, if you did that here at the Bank, you will see an organization that truly cares about its employees, that I’m a female. One example that comes to mind is from the auto industry in the 1980’s…- Ford engineers developed ‘pregnancy bellies’ and asked their design engineers to wear them to understand how to design cars for families—including families with pregnant women. While their intentions were good and they got a lot of good PR for the effort, why not just hire some competent women engineers instead of outfitting the men?

“A workforce segment that seems to be getting overlooked these days, and a particular passion while at the same time being a growth and performance-based culture. Mission statements can’t be just flowery words on a piece of paper. There also needs to be accountability at every level of the organization.”

“Patti maintains a website ( which includes a number of thought-provoking blogs on a variety of topics. One that caught my eye particularly was ‘Don’t Let the Crush of Work Crush You.’ Would you elaborate on what prompted you to write that blog, and give us an executive summary on what you mean by “Don’t Let the Crush of Work Crush You.”

PTR: “In most businesses the goal is to enhance profitability and to make your numbers. This is especially apparent in the 4th quarter of the year, when the push is on to deliver and capture revenue for year-end, and clients have cash that they need to spend or lose it as the fiscal year comes to close. This makes for a particularly crazy end to the year in the agency business. I’ve walked the halls (at previous employers) and have seen the stress and exhaustion on the faces of employees who don’t have much more to give. I’ve found that in these stressful moments it’s so important to not lose the human factor. Continue to maintain empathy for those around you. When we get super busy, it’s easy to lose sight of simple, every-day courtesies—like being kind to one another and treating each other with respect.

“It’s also important to not get caught up in the stress of the moment and try to maintain a close link to what’s truly important to you. We can and should turn our focus to our customers and colleagues, but at the same time we need to take care of ourselves. I’ve also found that maintain- ing a sense of humor is essential! Being able to laugh is a gift not just to ourselves, but to others. And I believe that makes our work better.”


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