Impact stories from

White Mountains Community College

Jim Brannen – President & CEO, First Seacoast Bank

CEO does not forget his roots

Jim Brannen

White Mountains Community College

Associate in Mid-Management, 1982


Jim Brannen started at a four-year college and quickly realized it wasn’t right for him.

“I knew I needed to hit the reset button. That’s when I decided to move back home to Berlin.”

Jim pursued a full-time position in the construction industry and at the same time enrolled in the mid-management program at White Mountains Community College (WMCC).

“I liked that WMCC was geographically close and in my hometown with many familiar faces attending the same classes as I was. The college offered a structured education which was exactly what I needed at the time. They provided tighter accountability with clear expectations which helped ease the transition from high school to college. This model really worked well for me.”

Personalized relationships between instructors and students provided an environment where Jim could thrive.

“I was very happy to be able to receive personal attention from my professors who were always willing to steer me through the process.”

Because the classroom size was small – 20 students at most – Jim had the opportunity to develop relationships with his professors who would offer personal advice and share life experiences with him and his classmates.

“I was able to bond with many of my professors, but there’s one particular professor that really stands out and that’s Paul Finnegan. He was an incredible guy who believed in me! Professor Finnegan was an eccentric character who was very knowledgeable. He taught me so much.”

Professors like Finnegan focused as much on business life skills as they did technical skills.

“The direct real-life advice on how to be successful in the workplace, not just from a technical knowledge standpoint but from life skills business acumen, professionalism and conduct were a huge benefit. WMCC taught me life lessons and how to behave to become successful.”

During presentations, Jim and his peers were expected to behave as they would in a professional setting by being prepared, professional to everyone in the room and dressing the part.

“By being professional in the classroom, we were better prepared when entering our chosen field because we had rehearsed over and over with our professors and our classmates. It really helped to set us up from success.”

Jim continued to balance his job and his education, but on one very cold New England day, he was ready to have a break from construction.

“I walked into my local bank to cash my check and to get some reprieve from the cold when the bank associate assisting me asked if I’d like a job indoors. I looked down at my hands that were practically icicles and instantly responded with a yes. I was offered a job a few moments later and took it on the spot!”

Fast forward nearly four decades and Jim has thrived in a banking career and is now president and CEO of First Seacoast Bank. Though he became a banker by accident, Jim credits his instructors for having a profound impact on him.

“WMCC got me focused on business acumen and taught me how to be disciplined. Because of this, I had the focus and determination to always say yes and to take on more work at the bank. This certainly helped to advance my career.”


WMCC was the fit that Jim was looking for.

“The community college was exactly the right size for me and the perfect fit, offering an education that I grade very high. My experience at WMCC opened the doors for the rest of my career. I have no regrets!”

Jim is glad he chose WMCC for his education and continues to stay in touch with the college, giving back by supporting WMCC’s current students.

“Our family supports WMCC through the Foundation for NH Community Colleges and we know our support will directly help students complete their studies and help our colleges maintain their level of excellence.”

To learn more about White Mountains Community College, visit the college’s website: