Putting Values into Action: Robert’s Story

A man standing in front of a lake.

 Three people dressed in firefighting gear posing for a photo in the snow with a U.S. flag flying behind them.Since joining the team at Sunrise Banks, Robert Walker (center in photo) has had a strong desire to be engaged in his community and serve it to the best of his ability. After moving from the Twin Cities to Onamia, Minnesota during the COVID-19 pandemic, he joined the Onamia Lions Club and volunteered at a local food shelf. Robert also joined the Onamia Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter. 

“I never thought that I would have gone down this path, but some of the greatest things come from just trying something new, exciting and kind of scary,” he says. “There is no greater reward for me than being able to help someone in their most needed times.” 

Robert has also brought that desire to be an involved employee to his role at Sunrise Banks. He joined the company in 2017 and currently works as a Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and monitoring services manager. 

My work is really rewarding as our goal is to protect the bank as well as our customers,” he says. “There are a lot of bad actors out there trying to take advantage of our customers. When we help them, it feels great.” 

In 2023, Robert was given the annual Sunny Award, which recognizes an employee who best exemplifies the company’s core values.  

“I was in disbelief,” he says about the moment he was named the Sunny Award winner. “It was a really cool experience, a great accomplishment for me, and something I’ll never forget.” 

Values that speak to everyone 

Robert says he works hard to embrace all of Sunrise Banks’ core values daily. The one that resonates with him the most is Respects All. 

“The reason this is so important is that we are all just doing our best in this crazy life,” he says. “I feel like if we give each person the respect they deserve, we will all be happier and in a better place.” 

Having fun and working hard  

Robert is quick to give credit to his team for making his experience at Sunrise Banks as enjoyable as it has been. They even brought signs and cheered him on at the all-company event where he received the Sunny Award.  

“They are, literally, the best team ever,” he says. “I know a lot of people say that, but they create an experience that I have never had at any other institution. I have never felt so supported and listened to at an institution.”  

Robert says he appreciates opportunities to stay engaged with other employees while working remotely.  

“There’s a trust aspect within the team,” Robert adds. “We have fun, but we work really hard, too.” 

Far-reaching impact 

Robert says he cares deeply about the impact he and other Sunrise Banks employees can make in the community. In addition to his regular job duties, Robert is part of a task force focused on how Sunrise Banks can help combat human trafficking. The team is developing ways for Sunrise employees to be trained in how to spot potential financial signs of human trafficking crimes and how to best support these investigations. Robert says Sunrise will not tolerate people using another human being for their own financial gain or depravity.  

“One thing I have learned at Sunrise is that we care for our community members,” he says. “From our perspective, there is no better way to serve the community than to ensure the safety and protection of everyone involved.” 

The shadow of a firefighter's helmet in front of a burning fire.As the Sunny Award winner, Robert received $2,000 to donate to an organization of his choice. Robert chose to donate his prize towards the purchase of a Lucas Machine for the Onamia Fire Department. A Lucas Machine helps give consistent chest compressions to someone in need of CPR. It is often harder for small fire departments to afford this type of equipment. Robert’s donation, along with community fundraising efforts, are helping to make that a reality. 

“This is also a way that everyone at Sunrise has contributed to saving future lives,” he says. “I am so proud of everyone for supporting this cause. I hope each person gives themselves a pat on the back for saving a life.” 

You can read more about Robert and other highlights from the past year in our 2023 Impact Report.

About the Sunny Award

Each year, Sunrise Banks hosts the Sunny Awards to recognize an employee who best exhibits the company’s new core values– a Force for Good, Always Learning, Brightens the Room, Never “Not My Job” and Respects All. Sunrise Banks implemented these values in Fall 2023.