Umpqua Bank’s Safety in Numbers

As Umpqua Bank adjusts with the changing face of banking and enhances its customer experience, Tony Bailey’s “Rule of Threes” is anchoring the process

Umpqua Bank’s locations, such as this one in Reno, Nevada, are built to be relevant, usable, multipurpose spaces for its customers. Photo: Boone Speed
Umpqua Bank’s locations, such as this one in Reno, Nevada, are built to be relevant, usable, multipurpose spaces for its customers. Photo: Boone Speed

He looked on as the translators went back and forth in Arabic and Kurdish. It was 2005, and Tony Bailey was purchasing supplies to help the US Air Force rebuild and repair Iraq’s infrastructure. Although he grew up around construction—Bailey’s father and in-laws are contractors—the overseas adventure sparked a new passion for procurement and a knack for leadership. He trained personnel on survival and resistance tactics, led deployment teams, coordinated top-secret clearances, and managed humanitarian project funds.

Now, more than a decade later, Bailey has climbed the ranks in the logistics and supply chain world as a civilian. After holding positions at companies such as Procurian and JP Morgan Chase, he joined Umpqua Bank in 2014 to help the $22 billion regional bank solidify vendor relationships, leverage internal buying power, and enhance its overall footprint.

The job has kept Bailey busy. He has 30 projects slated for 2016, and to accomplish them, he’s relying on the leadership skills learned in the Air Force. In addition, he’s implementing a tool of his own known as “the Rule of Threes,” which was inspired, in part, by his father.

“My dad always said that if you’re always chasing the next best thing, you’re fragmenting your time,” he says. “It’s the old adage of being a jack of all trades but a master of none that drives the rule.”

Through his experiences in the Air Force and elsewhere, Bailey understands the value of balancing the time spent on immediate tasks with time focusing on the critical whole.

“Looking at the big picture one piece at a time instead of obsessing over everything all at once lets you become an expert in what’s important and creates opportunities around what you really need to focus on,” he says.

Air Force officers warned Bailey that if he attempted too many tasks at once, his performance in each area might be mediocre. Instead, they told him, he should find the most important things he could do in any day, week, or year. He should look for measurable, attainable goals, and work to deliver results back to the unit. That strategy anchors Bailey’s Rule of Threes at Umpqua, and he’s working to deliver results back to the banking institution.

As senior vice president of real estate, facilities, and strategic procurement, he asks each member of his team to develop three yearly targets that include a financial goal, a collaborative goal, and a personal goal. Each person should find a way to attack operational costs, a method for working across departments, and a means of taking the next step in their career. If each person follows the rule, Bailey says the bank will thrive.

“We have many projects, but everyone should know the few projects that should take a majority of our time, and I ask each member of my team to tell me what their priorities are,” he says. As a result, Bailey says the approach helps him avoid the temptation to micromanage every person on his org chart.

This approach also helps Umpqua realize its vision of “a different kind of bank,” which Lani Hayward, executive vice president of creative strategies, says the company set out to create.

“We offer the sophisticated products and expertise of a large bank, but we deliver them with the personal service and community engagement of a community bank and the innovative experience of a great retailer,” she says, adding that Umpqua endeavors to make the intimidating and impersonal world of finance more pleasant and inviting. In other words, Umpqua Bank isn’t just a space for transactions—it’s a relevant, usable, multipurpose atmosphere.

As a product of this unique approach, design becomes increasingly important, and the company’s flagship San Francisco store perfectly illustrates what’s different about banking at Umpqua. As with each of Umpqua’s stores—which are built around its customers and communities—the company’s San Francisco location features an award-winning, high-tech, high-touch mash-up that remains true to the surrounding community. Clients can park their bike (or borrow one of Umpqua’s), grab a cup of Umpqua Blend coffee, and walk into an open, inviting lobby designed by Umpqua and Huen of Portland, where a retro telephone rings directly to the CEO’s desk. Or, they can interact with a mobile concierge associate to conduct business or access an array of products. Others can make use of Skype-equipped public conference rooms, catch a TED-style talk known as an Umpqua Catalyst event, or attend a showcase on financial services (or sometimes coffee and chocolate tastings) at an adjacent Demo Bar. The store won the Retail Design Institute’s 2013 Store of the Year award.

Bailey says the deep roots that each location has in its community is an important part of Umpqua’s culture, and that the company will continue to foster these connections in new ways as it moves forward.

“We’re committed to the places in which we do business, and we want to build strong connections,” he says. “The face of banking may be changing, but we’re confident that the community bank will have a great place going forward. We’re not going anywhere.”