When I became Univest’s Market President for Western Pennsylvania in April, I left my role with another bank where I worked for just short of 20 years. Walking away from nearly two decades of loyal service, and the seniority that comes with it, was not a decision I made lightly. When people ask why I made the move, I tell them it was the right opportunity but, more importantly, it was with the right organization.
I grew up in Aliquippa, just outside Pittsburgh in Western Pennsylvania. So, when I first heard about the opportunity to become a Market President and create something from scratch in my hometown, my interest was piqued. That said, at the time I didn’t know much about Univest. Additionally, I’d received many calls in the past from recruiters pitching job opportunities to me, however I never took advantage of those opportunities because those openings didn’t feel like the right fit or the right bank.
When I initially heard about the opportunity with Univest, it was presented as a different type of bank —community-focused, employee-centric and guided by strong founding principles. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical. It’s important to understand that I’ve spent most of my career in sales and recognize sales pitches. When I heard about how different Univest is, I thought to myself, “Sure, every bank says that, but how many really live up to it?”
Despite my initial skepticism, I was intrigued and did a little digging. I found Univest was a strong and stable institution from a financial standpoint. I also liked the asset size of approximately $7 billion which I thought represented a good niche between a smaller, community bank and a larger regional bank. But I still wanted to learn more about the culture for myself.
Focus on Fundamentals
Prior to my first round of interviews, which were conducted via Zoom with several members of senior management from across the organization, I read about the “The Univest Way” on Univest’s website, which described the 18 “Fundamentals” that describe the culture at Univest and its way of doing business. As I went through the interview process, it struck me that each person I spoke with either talked directly about the fundamentals or spoke in a way that made it clear those principles were ingrained in the organization. I loved that and it made me feel like there might be something to the idea of Univest being a different kind of bank. I was excited to continue the process further.
During a visit to Univest’s headquarters outside Philadelphia, I met personally with about a dozen people who all just blew me away with their genuineness and support. That visit cemented my desire to join the Univest family and my decision to accept the position became pretty easy. That’s not to say I didn’t have worries about giving up 20 years at my previous bank or the challenges I would face leading Univest into a new market, but I felt much greater enthusiasm than concern.
Up and Running
Now that I’m up and running in the role, I feel energized every day about building something great in the region where I grew up. I’m very familiar with the culture and communities of Western Pennsylvania. I know many people in the industry here and I’m excited to share all that Univest has to offer and what sets us apart.
For a bank our size, we are very competitive when it comes to commercial products and services. I’m also impressed with our robust digital solutions that provide the modern experience our clients have come to expect. While I am grateful for Univest’s investment in technology, I especially appreciate that it is seen as a tool to better serve our customers not a replacement for the human connection. That is vital because the Univest difference really does come down to the people within the organization and our commitment to the community. We genuinely want to help clients and businesses succeed and Univest tremendously supports the communities we serve. Bringing the mindset of a true community bank to the Pittsburgh area, with a real boots-on-the-ground commitment to the people here, will be very impactful. When we talk about the value we see in our clients and in giving back to the community, much like the fundamentals we’re guided by, that’s not just talk — it’s something that we live.
I have two main goals right now as we establish ourselves in Western Pennsylvania. The first is to begin to tell the Univest story and get our name and brand out there so we gain recognition in the market. The second is to open our initial locations and hire a team of talented and committed commercial lenders to serve the needs of the local business community.
My approach is to hire great people and allow them to excel. When building a team of relationship managers, I’m looking for self-motivated people with an entrepreneurial spirit who value seeing businesses succeed. I want them to see their career at Univest as their own “business” and to be invested in growing it. Univest is all about people, so it’s important that our employees share that philosophy. A lot of banks talk about how they value clients and what they can do for customers. But in my experience so far, I see that really being put into action by Univest and I’m truly excited to see what’s possible as I grow the team and begin serving Western PA!
Univest Bank and Trust Co is Member FDIC and an Equal Opportunity and SBA Preferred Lender