County Clerk & Comptroller Sharon Bock has a passion for public service

Clerk & Comptroller Sharon R. Bock was recently sworn in as president of the Florida Court Clerks and Comptrollers, marking the first time in the clerks association’s 65-year history that a clerk from Palm Beach County has led the statewide association.

The Florida Court Clerks and Comptrollers is made up of the state’s 68 Clerks of the Circuit Court and Comptrollers and their more than 7,000 employees. The association advocates and provides technical assistance and education.

In her role as association president, Bock plans to build on the group’s accomplishments. They include the creation of a statewide portal for electronic filing of court records that was used by more than 197,000 filers to make more than 14 million submissions last year. Bock’s priorities include improving the technology used by the state’s clerks and working with legislative leadership to secure funding.

After seven years as chief deputy clerk of courts, Bock was elected as the Clerk & Comptroller in Palm Beach County in 2004 and is now in her fourth four-year term. She has nearly 25 years of experience in the private sector as a financial consultant, real estate lawyer, title company owner and corporate manager.

Name: Sharon R. Bock, Clerk & Comptroller, Palm Beach County.

Education: Slippery Rock University, B.A.; Houston College of Law (formerly South Texas College of Law), J.D.; Accredited Investment Fiduciary; Holds insurance and securities licenses Series 7, 63 and 65.

Hometown: Johnstown, Pennsylvania. (A Floridian for 32 years.)

Where do you live now? Singer Island.

About your organization: The Clerk & Comptroller is an independent countywide constitutional office that is elected by and accountable to the public.

My office serves three main functions: the financial watchdog for county expenditures, the repository of and custodian for all official records and the service and support center for the county’s justice system.

From seven locations, nearly 700 skilled professionals perform more than 1,000 different functions in carrying out these duties. For example, last fiscal year we audited and paid more than $1.4 billion in county bills; collected and disbursed more than $439 million in court and legal records fees, fines and assessments; and processed 5.5 million court and official record documents. 

Under Florida law, the Clerk can be held personally liable if these duties are not performed correctly.

How has your organization changed? Technological advances have revolutionized the way my office operates. When I was elected in 2004, we had more than 900 employees and almost all of the work was manual. Today, we use artificial intelligence and other software to help us process court records, a shift that requires a highly skilled workforce.

As our budget has been cut at the state level, we have looked for ways to do more with less. By leveraging technology, we have been able to operate efficiently and continue to provide our customers world-class service. However, achieving this has not been easy.

In 2009, state budget cuts forced me to lay off more than 120 employees — a first in my office’s 100-year history. While that was a heartbreaking experience and created service gaps that proved dangerous, I believe that our organization today is stronger, savvier, more nimble. But as the state legislature adds vital statewide services for which no dedicated funding source exists — such as guardianship monitoring, handgun reporting and traffic citation issuance — to the clerks’ already vast duties, proper funding will continue to be a priority.

First paying job and what you learned from it: When I was in high school, I made telephone cold calls for Olan Mills Photography. It was one of the most important jobs I ever had because it taught me tenacity and resilience. I learned that rejection isn’t the end of the world. I also learned to take pride in my product and be confident that it was going to meet customers’ expectations. Today, as the Clerk & Comptroller, I continue to take pride in the customer service that my team provides to county residents.

First break in the business: I was going to graduate school, and I needed a part-time job. I was hired by a fire alarm company to make cold calls. That is where I learned about management. Soon I began managing the company’s sales force, and I eventually managed the entire division.

Best business book you’ve read: “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie; “See You at the Top” by Zig Ziglar; and “Good to Great” by Jim Collins.

What do you tell young people about your organization? Working in the government sector is a calling, rather than just a job. You have to have a passion for public service and an understanding that your service makes a difference in people’s lives.

The clerk’s office is also a place where you can grow and thrive. Because we perform nearly 1,000 different functions for the community, we need professionals with diverse skills. Our benefits package is also very competitive.

Favorite smartphone app: The Stocks apps. As a former financial consultant, I still closely follow the stock market and gauge our economic health.

My other favorite apps are iBooks, Audible and Fitbit.

What is the most important trait you look for when hiring? Competence, intelligence and focus are traits we expect. But finding those with whom we share common values — integrity, a strong work ethic, innovative thinking and a passion to make a difference – is much harder. We have created a culture where excellence is expected and innovation is rewarded. I believe we owe the taxpayers nothing less.

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