LEAD Academy Reflection: November 2014
November’s class was as exceptional as the first two. We had our first field trip to Howard Bank’s headquarters. My expectations of what we were going to learn from bank executives were more of a making money leadership perspective. I was pleasantly surprised to see Howard Bank’s (HB) core values and mission were very similar to Catholic Charities and my own.
Mary Ann Scully, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, presented the history of the bank; she included how and why they were able to grow using intentional leadership qualities, core values, mottos and mission. It felt like she was telling a story as she did not use any notes and made the connections on how HB used leadership skills, core values and the bank’s mission statement in their remarkable growth.
HB started in 2004. HB’s focus was and still is small to medium businesses. 2004 through 2006 were great years but 2007 was rough for HB. Not giving into the outside economy and embracing the change, one of HB’s intentional strategies is staying committed to the community. Doing whatever it takes to make the community strong in turn will make the bank strong as well. In 2008-2009, HB executives had a huge decision to make; should they bite the bullet once and take a $45M loss or should they spread the loss over several quarters hoping for the economy to recover? HB ended up taking the $45M loss in the 4th QTR of 2009. Taking a hit huge loss at once was a brave and daring move. The lesson taught by HB is not to avoid risk, but rather to manage risk.
HB’s growth strategy is both organic and de novo. HB focused to expand toward counties that are underserved rather than towards counties that have more wealth. HB focused on branding and made communication a priority. They have a big bank brain with a small bank heart. They are always asking themselves how they can exceed their customers’ vision of what a bank should be, while being their customers’ most valued partner. HB more than provides solutions, they provide the means. HB’s core purpose is to serve their customer above all else, with trust and expertise at every level of the banking relationship.
Mary Ann Scully also shared some insights of leadership. Growth by definition is about change. Leaders should be proactive not just reactive. She personally does not worry about things out of her control. Personality should be disciplined and have a lot of integrity, driven and committed, assured yet humble. Ms. Scully proved herself to be a lifelong learner and is always willing to share the knowledge. She knows what she knows and even more important knows what she doesn’t know. Seek out change, think big and deliver bigger. Growing pains are healthy; it is a gift not a burden. Ms. Scully closed with the philosophy of E.L.I.T.E, which stands for Always strive for Excellence, Leadership, Integrity, Teamwork, Enhance the community.
Robert Altieri, Executive Vice President, President of the Mortgage Division, Head of Specialty Lending, expressed his thoughts on the importance of having great chemistry/culture in the workplace. Mr. Altieri made the decision to leave a bank which existed for 110 years and a culture that was very customer/community oriented. Later he took the job with HB and he felt he could not be more at home, and he later brought around 30 employees from his old bank knowing they would also fit with HB’s chemistry. When interviewing as an potential employee, employer, etc you have to not only determine if the person can do the job, or can you grow your career at this company, but more importantly is the chemistry a right fit. Using buzz words can help you determine whether the fit is right.
Steve Poynot, Senior Vice President, Client Services Team Leader, showed us how HB welcomed leadership from any chair. HB acknowledges the need of communicating goals and empowering the right people which not only generates numbers but makes for rapid growth, enables self esteem.
LEAD Fellows then went back to the Dulaney Valley campus to have lunch. We worked and had great progress on our team project. We closed the day with an eye opening exercise to reflect on our mentor experience. Mari Pat McGuire provided a sociometry exercise, which triggered thoughts of what is going right or wrong with our relationship and where to go from there.
Howard Bank was a great place to have our first field trip. It showed the LEAD Academy many impressive techniques on how to deal with “Leadership under Fire.” What a great day!!!
Margarita Quashie is the Payroll Manager in Accounting and Finance and a Fellow in the LEAD Class of 2015. She spends her days at Catholic Charities ensuring and supporting the broad array of programs and servicing the 2,000+ amazing employees. She constantly questions and reviews systems, policies and procedures to be sure that the three payrolls are processed accurately and in a timely manner. In April 2014, Margarita earned the Certified Payroll Professional certification from the American Payroll Association after passing a comprehensive 4 hour exam that required months of study. Supporting her in the LEAD program, among others, are her supervisor, Randy Davis, and her mentor, Janet Herilla, in the Child and Family Services division.