I interned in the International Cash Management department of PepsiCo during my junior year of college. It was a great group of people and many of them started their careers in the banking sector. At that time, I wanted to become a stockbroker, but the Senior Director of International Treasury, Dianne Sutter, suggested I explore banking as an alternative. She also encouraged me to schedule informational interviews throughout Pepsi’s finance organization, which really expanded my horizons. After college, I interviewed at Republic National Bank for a role in business planning and I knew it was the right job for me. It gave me a broad view into the business of banking and a great opportunity to learn.
My later transition from finance to the business line was mainly driven by business bankers, first at Republic and later at Signature Bank. They were a tough crowd to impress at the outset, but once I earned their trust, they became relentless advocates for my advancement. Their support elevated me within both banks and continues to create opportunities for me today. Those relationships are what motivate me to stay in the industry. I’ve been fortunate to work with people who come from a wide range of backgrounds, from former musicians to dyed-in-the-wool lenders, and their commitment to their clients always inspires me. They all contribute to my knowledge of the industry in many different ways. And they keep me busy!
Early in my time at Republic National Bank, Elizabeth Rabbi Cribbs, now Executive Director Family Advisory and Philanthropy Services at UBS, took an interest in my career. She was a powerful advocate for me when HSBC acquired Republic and the deck chairs were being rearranged. I chose to join the effort to launch Signature Bank rather than stay with HSBC, but to this day I am grateful for everything she did for me during the transition. Elizabeth remains a wonderful friend and confidant, and I still ask her to meet me for lunch or coffee when I need guidance.
My career was largely shaped by sponsors rather than mentors, but I do think mentorship is important. Few of us would be where we are today without a helping hand from our more experienced colleagues. I recently had an impromptu mentoring opportunity with a young professional who reached out to me on LinkedIn. We never worked together, but she saw my name on several old policies at a former employer and was curious about my career. I was happy to provide her with answers to her questions, and I think it is important to be open to these kinds of dialogues. Informal connections were far more important to my career than any formal mentoring arrangement. You have to be present for these types of connections to occur – whether it’s being responsive on social media or attending the company bowling night. The next generation has different expectations of its leaders, and it is important to remain accessible.
I enjoy Wes Anderson movies, and I am looking forward to the release of The French Dispatch later this year. Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel are my favorites. I admire creativity, and Wes Anderson films make me feel like I am reading a book, going to a play, and listening to a great soundtrack all at the same time. I also get a laugh out of his quirky characters.
My greatest successes are ahead of me! Joseph DePaolo, President & CEO of Signature Bank, always used to say, in a lighthearted way, “What have you done for me lately?” It was an ethos I took to heart and carry with me today. Yesterday’s successes only have so much value; what we do today is more important.
Graduating law school a week before my 40th birthday was probably my most satisfying success so far. I went at night while holding down a demanding day job, and it was very gratifying to get to the finish line. I hadn’t been in a classroom in over a decade, and I owe my classmates a debt of gratitude for introducing me to all the new technology I had missed out on behind the formidable firewalls of the traditional banking system. I was also proud to be an early-stage employee of Signature Bank, particularly so early in my career. Building a bank from scratch gave me insight into the banking industry that it would have taken decades to gain had I stayed at a larger bank. And I was deeply honored in 2019 to join the board of directors of BP Asset Group, Inc., a startup that aspires to create a socially conscious, ESG principals-based financial services platform for all.
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