H. Gregg Strader, American National Bank & Trust
This month we bring you another edition of the Monthly Mentor! Those of you who attended the North Carolina School of Banking’s lending panel should recognize our next guest mentor: H. Gregg Strader, who currently serves as EVP/Chief Banking Officer for American National Bank & Trust.
Strader has over 30 years of experience in the banking industry. An alumnus of Davidson College, Strader also holds an MBA from Washington University’s Olin School of Business. His expertise ranges from management of lending, credit due diligence and risk management to mergers and integrations and strategic leadership.
We’ve asked him to share some tips for the next generation of bankers. Read his advice below!
1. Listen to people with your full and undivided attention. Being a good listener makes people feel valued. You may have the perfect solution or resolution in mind, but I have found that if I listen first, then I might learn something that I had not factored into my thought process. Listening also promotes the probability that more ideas and perspectives will get on the table. Asking questions so you are clear and gain helpful insights is important. I like learning from others, so being a good listener enhances this opportunity.
2. When dealing with conflict make sure you seek to understand both sides of the story. There are numerous occasions where someone will come to you and ask you to resolve a conflict. What I have learned over the years is you absolutely need to take the time to seek both sides of the story before you weigh in with a final decision. You have to remain open minded, calm and patient about the matter until you have all the facts. Having all the facts before you react will lead to well informed decisions.
3. Honesty is the best policy. Your integrity is so important in everything you do. It is the foundation of trust. Be sure you are honest about all matters at work and at home, even when the honest approach or answer may cause pain. “Spin” can quickly lead to distrust. Integrity is highly valued in banking by your customers and the internal team you work with each day. It is also one of the key characteristics we expect from our customers.
4. Change is constant in banking. Change is neither comfortable nor easy to accept at times, but it is forever. Your bank, not unlike most businesses or industries, has to change to remain relevant to its shareholders, its customers and to be competitive. You have to know this and understand it, but you cannot obsess about it. Being prepared for change requires an open attitude, a dose of humility, a degree of confidence in yourself, and a willingness to step out of your comfort zone.I have been displaced several times over my career because of internal reorganizations or mergers. In some cases I had to take a step back, but several times I ended up taking on a new role that ultimately helped my career development. Your reputation around integrity, hard work, team play, successful results, initiative, humility, flexibility and desire, along with a strong network of bankers and customers to call upon, will help you to ultimately land on your feet.
5. Patience is a virtue. Being a young banker means you are eager to learn all you can, to take on more responsibilities, become a respected leader, climb the ladder and find financial rewards. Rarely does your career timeline correspond with your bank’s timeline. Patience is not always a characteristic at the top of most our lists. Be sure you keep a patience pill handy from time to time. My experience is hard work and patience prevails.