Vice President, PNC Bank, N/A
What do you consider your greatest strength, and how do you think it benefits your business?
I have very strong communication skills, both verbal and written, and do not fear speaking in public or writing. I actually enjoy the opportunity to do both. My communication style, whether verbal or written, is transparent, direct, and organized. I am biased toward a logical progression of development rather than an impassioned, emotional one, which has definitely helped me in my role as a wealth advisor. I simplify complex and somewhat abstract concepts in a nonemotional and nonjudgmental way. My presentation style is helpful when dealing with very emotional planning situations such as death, incapacity, retirement, legacy philanthropy, and personal family dynamics.
Who inspires you? What did they motivate you to achieve or accomplish?
My parents inspire me. They provided me with a solid foundation built on a strong educational, emotional and moral code. By their example, I learned to love learning. The process of acquiring a new skill still holds endless fascination to me. I enjoy reading and learning new things. Additionally, my parents provided me with the emotional fortitude to believe in myself and my capabilities. However, this self-reliance was not to be at the expense of others. While recognizing that the nature of work can be competitive with respect to individual performance, I compete fairly and honestly. Finally, my parents instilled in me a robust moral code. I strive to be honest and thoughtful in all my dealings with everyone. Volunteering my time to help others has always been a component of this moral code.
How do you motivate others?
I motivate others by my example. If you want to have a friend, you need to be a friend worth having. I have a generally positive outlook coupled with a quick sense of humor. The use of humor has been a lifesaver in many sensitive situations. Additionally, I feel that if you want to motivate others, they need to believe you and to believe in you. Being forthright and honest help me earn the trust of others, which makes motivating others less of a challenge.
What do you think is the greatest issue or dilemma facing the African-American community today?
I think that the greatest issue facing the African-American community today is the growing educational gap between African-American children and their white counterparts in the public school system. Because the quality, or lack thereof, is essentially determined by zip code, too many African-American children are at a disadvantage with respect to educational resources and the quality of the educators in their school districts. Lack of a strong foundation in reading, writing, and arithmetic contributes to a growing divide as these children progress through the school system. They are ill equipped to compete in today’s growing STEM (science, technology, education and medicine) industries because they do not possess these basic skills.
How do you give back to the African-American community?
I support the African-American community through volunteerism. Recognizing the importance of reading as a critical educational component, I have tutored in an adult literacy program comprising mostly African-Americans. I have also served as a reading tutor for children at Martin Luther King elementary school in Pittsburgh. At present, I am a member of the leadership team of PNC Bank’s African-American Employee Business Resource Group (AA EBRG). The AA EBRG, made up of volunteer bank employees, supports and develops greater diversity and inclusion at PNC in three specific areas: African-American employee development, African-American community development, and African-American customer development. I greatly enjoy the opportunity to supplement my professional activities with developmental activities that support the three pillars of the AA EBRG. Through my leadership and participation in the AA EBRG, I have been able to give back to the African-American community in the following specific ways:
- Constructing and planting a fruit garden at the 4 Kids Early Learning Center as part of the Heritage Community Initiatives in Braddock, Pennsylvania
- Cleaning the Gwen’s Girls facility in Pittsburgh’s North Side district
- Providing career-development counseling for teens participating in the 100 Black Men program
- Providing career mentoring to employees and interns of PNC Bank, NA
- Providing personal financial literacy and retirement planning to African-Americans during a seminar held at Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservancy and Botanical Gardens
What’s the most important lesson you have learned in the course of your career?
You need to own your professional development. Hard work alone is simply not enough. You need to develop a network of people who believe in your capabilities and who are willing to advocate on your behalf. Your reputation is your brand. So what do others say about you? If you don’t know, you should. Progressing in your career is a job in and of itself. You must make a critical assessment of how you are perceived by others and of the value you bring to the table. If you find that there are areas you need to improve or education you need to acquire, take the necessary steps to address these areas.
How do you maintain your balance?
I am not always “on” or accessible. I am very protective of my personal, non-work time. When I leave work, I leave work until the next day. I don’t even check my e-mail at home. In order for me to work effectively, I require dedicated downtime. My family and friends are just as important to me as my clients. When I am with clients, they have my complete and undivided attention. However, when I am with family or friends, they have my complete and undivided attention. I realize that this is not a common approach, but it has worked for me.
What have you learned about yourself?
I have learned that I am a determined and persistent person. I did not readily recognize this aspect of my personality until a few years ago when it was brought to my attention. I have a strong sense of what I want to achieve and how I’d like to achieve it. Having established these points in my own mind, I have been quick to share them with my managers. I have not been distracted or discouraged by challenges along the way.
What advice would you give to someone just beginning his or her career?
I would advise someone just starting their career to approach each task or project as though it were