Work Ethic Helped Rockow To The Top

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The first question that naturally springs to mind as you're talking to this woman is, "So, how's the marriage to Brad Pitt going?"

But the fact is, Heather Rockow only looks like "Friends" TV star and Hollywood bride Jennifer Aniston.

How close is the resemblance? Well, you can find out when Rockow will pose as her famous body-double during the Mogollon Health Alliance's fund-raising event, "Dining with Celebrities," in which local notables will serve supper to ticket buyers dressed up as some of the biggest names in Show Biz.

Even though Rockow's not actually wed to Mr. Pitt, those who attend the MHA function are hereby advised to leave Rockow a cash tip instead of a marriage proposal. She is very much "involved" with three-year boyfriend Bo Althoff, who she dreamily refers to as "my local hero."

But this is no young woman with nothing going for her but beauty and a beau. At the tender age of 26, her professional grit and determination and smarts most recently landed her the job of manager at the Payson branch of Wells Fargo Bank.

That rise is not at all surprising, though, when you chat with Rockow even for a few minutes starting with her birth in Cumberland, Wisc., a small town in the state's northwest corner.

"It was a good place to grow up," she says. "It was very, very small. My high school graduating class was about 92 people, total. But because I grew up in such a small town, I believe, wholeheartedly, that my work ethic is stronger than a lot of people I see these days. I had to work.

"I started working when I was 12 at my aunt's craft shop. I held an after-school job, running a convenience store, all through high school, from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. From there, I went to a bean-canning factory ... I actually got to stand at a conveyer belt and pick out bean stems for 8 hours a day.

"That was the worst job of my life," Rockow recalls with a grimace that tells you she's not exaggerating. "But it taught me to appreciate whatever job that I had after that. I think everyone at my high school should have been forced to work there for at least two weeks to realize that the jobs they were always complaining about really weren't all that bad."

Rockow continued to live in Cumberland through her 1997 graduation from nearby University of Minnesota, where she majored in economics and psychology.

"About five days after I finished college, I packed up my Honda and drove straight to Payson. I followed someone down here who I was dating at the time, and I loved it. I had never seen such beauty in my life. I had never seen a mountain! I grew up in dairy farmland. It was just flat."

Her first job in the second place she had ever lived was in a line of work about as far from economics as one could find.

"I was a bartender at the Ox Bow Saloon for a couple of years. None of the banks were hiring, so I took what I could get. I don't miss those days, but I'll never forget them."

In the meantime, the fellow Rockow had trailed to Payson returned to Wisconsin, "which was fine. I stayed!" she says with a satisfied laugh.

Rockow's next local employment was much more in line with the career she'd had in mind: Norwest Bank was looking for a teller, and Rockow got the job. Then Norwest and Wells Fargo merged, Norwest was divested and became The Arizona Bank, and Rockow had a new bank-employer without lifting a finger.

A year-and-a-half later, in November of 1999, Rockow became assistant manager of Wells Fargo's branch in Bashas' grocery store.

In August of 2000, she rose to service manager at the bank's "traditional" branch at 115 E. Highway 260.

One year later, she was handed new business cards that read "Heather Rockow, bank manager."

"I will put 110 percent into everything I do, whether I'm a manager or a teller or a janitor or a bean picker," says Rockow, revealing the secret of her speedy success. "I think that's a little uncommon these days. It was an impression factor on everyone who had been my supervisor and it hasn't quit yet."

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