Location: Plano, Texas
Assets: $528 million
Employees: 74
Chairman and CEO: Mike Barnett

Benchmark Bank is willing to work with the people who work for it.

In November 2013, Courtney Thomas wanted to move to Pittsburgh because of her husband's work, but felt conflicted since she was happy with her job at the Plano, Texas, bank.

She asked for the opportunity to work remotely and, within a week, Benchmark had shipped all of her computer equipment across the country, so she could have a work station set up at her new home, Thomas said. She dials in for monthly management meetings and travels to Texas roughly once a quarter for exams, large audits or budget meetings.

"I've now been working remotely for two and half years," she said. "It is things like this that make you really appreciate your employer."

Thomas joined Benchmark in 2009 after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in finance. She opted for a rotational work program, which allowed her to shadow employees at the bank's mortgage and title companies.

"I didn't really know what to expect," she said. "I remember talking to several friends who didn't particularly love their jobs out of college."

But Thomas soon realized her strength as a credit analyst. This led to many professional stepping stones, such as the bank paying for her to attend the Graduate School of Banking in Colorado, a three-year virtual education program that includes two weeks every summer at a campus in Boulder.

"This was a wonderful opportunity that has helped me greatly within my role at the bank," Thomas said.

Before being promoted to controller this year, Thomas held positions as a financial specialist, assistant vice president and vice president.

As she continues to grow at Benchmark, she plans to pay her experiences forward. "I wouldn't be in the position I am today had it not been for those who took time out of their day to teach me," Thomas said. "I didn't just want to know how to do some job function, but really why we are doing it. I love to learn, and do my best to pass on that knowledge to others, like people have done for me."

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