2017 Santa Rosa wildfire response just one reason Latino business leader proud of employer, Exchange Bank
Ed Gomez of Exchange Bank is a winner of North Bay Business Journal's 2018 Latino Business Leadership Awards.
Education: University of San Francisco and San Francisco State University
Tell us your story and that of your organization: I was born and raised in San Francisco which exposed me to so much including its multicultural roots and social progressiveness. I moved to Petaluma almost 30 years ago and what a great community and an ideal place to raise our three children.
I joined Exchange Bank in 1996 and from a professional perspective it has been a transforming experience.
Exchange Bank is a community organization that has established a legacy that dates back 128 years. Our legacy is to remain independent and to serve and to support our local communities and to create a better future for generations to come. The bank adheres to a set of core values that are unwavering – Commitment, Respect, Integrity and Teamwork.
At the bank I have had the opportunity to take on various responsibilities and currently I am a senior credit officer responsible for the various credit administration functions including loan policy, credit approval, loan review, problem loan management, portfolio analysis, appraisal, and loan servicing.
I am fortunate to work with a great staff that is dedicated and self-motivated to make sure that we fulfill internal, shareholder, and regulatory expectations.
Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?
The bank has been named as one of the Best Places to Work for the 13th consecutive year.
Our executive team is always looking for ways to insure that our employees have a great work environment, that they are engaged, and that they are provided opportunities.
What is the achievement you are most proud of?
There is not one singular achievement but I am proud of how the bank and our employees come together and support one another and the community. The disastrous wildfires were just one example of the bank coming together and supporting the community and our staff that were impacted.
As Gary Hartwick, our CEO, stated the bank was not interested in receiving kudos or publicity for doing what needed to be done to support our broader community. We donated time and hundreds of thousands of dollars to organizations that could make the most impact with little fanfare.
We created loan and deposit programs to immediately help those who needed support knowing full well that it would impact our bottom line but as stewards of our founder's legacy it is ingrained in our mission.
What is your biggest challenge today?
The biggest challenge we face is at an industry level as the regulatory burden is significant especially after the housing fallout and subsequent recession about 10 years ago.
Those outside of commercial banking cannot appreciate all that we are required to do from a compliance and safety and soundness perspective and still offer services at a competitive and equitable price.
As a successful professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?
Growing up in a single parent household and being a first generation American the biggest obstacle was the cultural divide. Looking back, though, I have been very fortunate to have had mentors and employers that provided me with opportunities and did not prejudge my capabilities.
In the end some of the biggest obstacles are the ones we place on ourselves but if you are willing to remain committed and to work hard the opportunities to advance are there.
How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?
Technology continues to drive the industry and we have seen the advent and adoption of mobile banking and online account management. It is transitioning to full digital including digital coins, biometrics, and artificial intelligence.
Branches may become obsolete as a virtual bank model emerges. That being said there will still be a need for a community bank as personal relationships remain important particularly on the wholesale lending side.
It is difficult to approve a multi-million dollar project without meeting with the customer to better understand the risks associated with the request and to assess their character.
Who was your most important mentor?
I have been fortunate as I have had several influences. My mother was a great example for me growing up as she exemplified sacrifice, selflessness and a strong work ethic.
When I joined Exchange my first manager was Tony Ghisla. He led by example and he always believed in me and I learned so much watching him deal with issues in a respectful and collaborative manner. Tony had a great approach and he was highly respected by everyone that he worked with. As good a manager that he was, he is a better person and I will always be grateful for his influence.
I have also been fortunate to have other strong mentor-manager relationships including Gary Hartwick and Mark Crawford. Each of them provided a different perspective and approach but what resonated with me were their integrity and commitment.
Tell us about your community involvement: I volunteered many years as a youth coach and those are memorable years as I coached soccer, baseball and basketball. I have been on various boards including Petaluma Boys and Girls Club, Petaluma Valley Little League, and Sonoma County for the Homeless. Currently I serve on the boards of the Legal Aid of Sonoma County and Elsie Allen High School Foundation.
What advice would you give to a young person today?
Empower yourself with a good education, be guided by strong values, and lead with hope not fear.
Words that best describe you: Committed, strong work ethic, empathetic and respectful
Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Carlos and Willie Tamayo for their commitment to a family business and their tireless efforts in promoting and supporting various causes within the community.
Current reading: “Einstein – His Life and Universe” by Walter Isaacson
Most want to meet: Bill Gates
Stress relievers: Running and other exercise