Melissa Miller: ‘generalist and specialist’

Melissa Miller, marketing manager and assistant vice president at F&M Trust, joined the Chambersburg-based bank’s marketing department shortly after graduating college.

Miller has since grown her craft alongside her employer for over a decade and attributes her success to the many facets of the company she has seen as a marketer for a bank.

Melissa Miller, marketing manager and assistant vice president at F&M Trust has been with the company for over 14 years. PHOTO PROVIDED.

Miller spoke to the Central Penn Business Journal about F&M Trust’s regional headquarters in Harrisburg that opened this month, what has kept her at the company and how she continues to learn in her role.

CPBJ: How has working at F&M Trust for the majority of your career affected how you grew as a marketing professional?

Miller: The longevity of my career in the same industry and with the same organization has allowed me to continually perfect the art and learn the science of marketing financial services. With experience came a deeper understanding of the industry and valuable legacy knowledge of the organization.

Paired with an intimate knowledge of the products and services offered by the bank, the sales process for each, and the bank’s competitive advantages, it has given me the ability to progress and be more effective in marketing financial services.

In addition, marketers, especially bank marketers, wear a lot of different hats requiring a higher variety of tasks performed under the marketing function.

That requirement has forced me to gain a more diverse skill set in the field to be effective in my position, placing me in a favorable place on the spectrum between generalist and specialist.

It has allowed me to see a bigger picture, understand how to integrate marketing strategy and become a more well-rounded and effective marketing professional.

CPBJ: What marketing initiatives would you say you have been particularly proud of and why?

Miller: There is so much to be proud of, and all that there is to be proud of is a result of a high level of collaboration within the organization and some excellent outside partners whom we consider extensions of our department.

I am particularly proud of campaigns and activities that are different. Ones that are a little unexpected, show our evolution as an organization and have a heightened level of creativity.

CPBJ: What has it been like for you to move from marketing officer to assistant vice

president, marketing manager over the last four years?

Miller: It’s interesting because the title change followed behind a gradual and continual growth in core responsibilities. At first it was a title change that better aligned with my role in the organization. Looking back through the time since that promotion, I believe it is more accurately described as a pivotal point in my career. Intentional or not, I experienced increased expectations from colleagues and leadership and in turn, felt myself grow and rise to those expectations.

CPBJ: How has your leadership style changed in that time?

Miller: Accordingly, that time most certainly had a direct impact on my leadership style. I believe that I have always exhibited a high level of supportive behavior and execution. While that has not changed, I believe it has been complimented by a growth in directive behavior to include a more motivational, strategic and visionary style.

CPBJ: How were you involved with the recent opening of F&M Trust’s regional headquarters in Harrisburg? What kind of a push did that take from the marketing department?

Miller: The addition of a regional headquarters, a physical location in the Capital Region, has been part of the bank’s strategy for several years. The bank’s marketing department has certainly played a large role to support that strategy. The Capital Region is a market the bank was already doing business in and therefore has been building presence in through marketing and advertising strategy.

The marketing department and our sales team have worked to put F&M Trust on the proverbial map long before being on the literal map. In addition to advertising and sales efforts in the Capital Region, marketing has also helped to facilitate relationships with community partners and support for non-profit organizations in the area.

An important component in the value of community banking and one that the bank takes very seriously.

CPBJ: What has made it possible for you to stay at F&M Trust as long as you have when it’s so common to change jobs early in one’s career?

Miller: A little initiative and a lot of opportunity. The answer has much less to do with me and everything to do with the organization. Working for an organization that is growing and evolving has provided a continual opportunity for growth. An organization that is always in motion has set the stage for a career also always in motion.

I have never found myself against a ceiling to break through but rather, in an environment where personal and professional development is supported and training opportunities both internal and external, formal and informal are plentiful. These factors contribute to a high level of job satisfaction and have fostered a continuous progression in my career. I didn’t need to change employers to experience any of those things, so I didn’t.

I am fortunate to have found myself with F&M Trust early in my career.

Timothy Ziegler: passion in insurance

Timothy Ziegler

Timothy Ziegler, head of East York-based McConkey Insurance & Benefits’ construction division, started his career in insurance twelve years ago after responding to an online ad for a job with Travelers Insurance.

Newly graduated from Penn State University with a Bachelor of Science in crime, law and justice, Ziegler took the job at Travelers, knowing that he could both scratch his itch for the legal field and find himself in a profession he could grow in.

A self-proclaimed “insurance nerd,” Ziegler said he has since found a love for reading policies and a fulfillment in knowing that he is helping his clients protect themselves.

Throughout his career, Ziegler has worked primarily with companies in the construction industry and today he oversees McConkey’s construction practice as one of the firm’s principals.

Ziegler spoke to the journal about his career growth, working with construction clients and how his firm handled the pandemic:


CPBJ: How would you describe your career so far? What did it take to get to where you are today?

Ziegler: If I had to pick one word, it would be fortunate. I have been extremely fortunate to be presented with some great opportunities during my career and have some great mentors who invested in my success.

Travelers invests a lot of time and money into their training program and is a great place to start and have an insurance career. After spending a few years in claims, I was accepted into their Underwriting Development Program and would work in their construction division.

This 6+ month training program really set me up to have success in the role. I loved the aspect of trying to find solutions as an underwriter and one of the agencies I worked with was McConkey.

They saw my “find solutions instead of excuses” approach and knew I’d be a great fit for their team. McConkey was a great fit for me because they allowed me to learn from some really great people.


CPBJ: What differentiates construction clients from other clients? What do they need from you as their point of contact?

Ziegler: Arguably the most important thing for our construction clients is for us to understand the risks they face day to day because their business is so unique.

I could have all of the insurance knowledge in the world, but if I don’t understand how risk is transferred through contracts or what exposures they have on a jobsite then that insurance knowledge will be useless.

Specializing in construction was a great fit for me because of how much overlap there is between the transfer of risk that occurs when contract is signed.

There are liabilities passed down from the owner to the General Contractor and various subcontractors and only some of that liability is going to be covered by a standard insurance policy.

Clients need to know how to modify contracts so that they aren’t assuming liability for things that their insurance policy won’t cover. If the contract requirements cannot be modified then we need to work with their carrier to get the proper language in their policy.

Sometimes you cannot amend the policy to reflect the liability assumed in the contract and that’s where you need to be able to explain what risk the client has and allow them to make a decision whether or not they are comfortable with it.

In almost every circumstance we perform a coverage analysis for a new client, we find areas where they are not providing the insurance coverage they’re contractually obligated to based on the contracts they have signed.


CPBJ: This year you took the role of vice president and principal at McConkey. How has that changed what you do in your day to day?

Ziegler: My primary role of working clients and overseeing our Construction Practice remains unchanged, but I have taken on new responsibilities and the COVID-19 has led to some changes in our business.

Weekly meetings with the other principals has shortened the learning curve on running a business. Most major decisions are discussed prior to being made so I’ve learned a lot about aspects of the organization I haven’t been involved in before – our employee benefits division, finance, personnel, long-range planning, etc.


CPBJ: What advice would you give someone getting into the insurance industry or particularly someone working with a client in construction for the first time?

Ziegler: I might be a little biased, but McConkey has a great internship program and training program for people who don’t have any insurance experience.

A list of open positions can be found on our website! Local Insurance carriers are also a great place to look to start a career because they really invest in their training programs for those who don’t have experience.

Looking online to see what positions are open and spending time on LinkedIn is a great way to find out what is available. I’d be happy to give anyone guidance who has any questions on the industry!


CPBJ: How would you describe your first year as a principal?   

Ziegler: While this year has been a challenge, I’m much further ahead in my education than I’d normally be so I would say eye-opening.

I’ve learned all the things it takes to run a business and have seen the thought process that goes into making certain decisions instead of just seeing the result. Many companies say “Our people are our greatest asset”, but I can see that the other principals at McConkey firmly believe this.

Some decisions are hard to make, but we’ve always had the best interest of employees in mind. We can’t take care of our clients without taking care of the employees first.

Black and Brown young professionals build community amid pandemic, BLM protests

YPOC members gather for a Paint and Sip event during the group’s biannual Black in the Burg. PHOTO PROVIDED


Two weeks into March, Kimeka Campbell, executive vice president of operations for the Young Professionals of Color of Harrisburg, sat down with another leader of the group to come up with what would be next for the four-year-old organization.

Since its founding in 2016, the YPOC has made a name for itself in the midstate as both a gathering place for the area’s Black and Brown young professionals to find community and a place for professional development through leadership workshops and one-on-one coaching. However, prior to the pandemic and the return of Black Lives Matter protests across the country, Campbell said she felt burnt out and YPOC needed to find a way to spark new interest among current and potential members.

“I was sitting down with our administrative chair and cultural community chair, Cody Burt, and I told him I didn’t know what was next for YPOC and that we needed to do more things to bring the community together,” she said.

While no one at the YPOC would have wished for what happened in the coming months, the group’s membership would grow by historic proportions as Black and Brown young people looked for comfort and community thanks to the one-two punch of the pandemic and a national spotlight on racial inequalities after the death of George Floyd.

First came the pandemic, which forced the YPOC to transition board meetings and social gathers such as the group’s weekly tipsy Tuesdays to an online format. As the pandemic worsened and members quarantined in their homes, the weekly meetings became the foundational way members communicated with one another.

Membership also began to increase as more young professionals had morefree time to give to community organizations. The group soon tried to expand its services to help families impacted by the pandemic by opening of an impromptu child care service after schools shut down.

“We got insurance, some people who had clearances and, in about 28 hours, schools closed and we were up and running,” she said.

The next spike in growth came via the national Black Lives Matter protests. More people than ever were looking for ways to interact with a community that understood what they were going through and the YPOC saw its membership increase by nearly 30 people every month; something that Campbell had never seen.

“When BLM hit, we saw an opportunity to continue to do everything we were already doing– connecting Black and Brown people, creating a space for them and creating leaders,” said Burt. “We believe joy is resistance. We want to create spaces where people can be involved and have joy.”

The growing number of YPOC members and a desire to support area Black and Brown organizations thanks to the national spotlight from the protests, led to the group having one of its most successful fundraisers in its history this summer.

YPOC has two large public events, known as Black in the Burg, which is held every year in February and July. This year’s July event, a gala in which all proceeds were to the Harrisburg school district, was cancelled.  Instead, the group focused on raising money online. It raised more than $15,000 without having to spend any on hosting the formal event.

“At this point we can ask the community and they come pouring in. We learned that we don’t have to spend money on the fundraisers,” said Burt. “You can lose focus on the actual thing because you are worried about people coming to the event.”

Along with continuing both its fundraising and social events, the group sought ways to contribute to the Black Lives Matter movement. The YPOC was well prepared to bring other Black and Brown organizations together to fight systemic racism, Burt said.

“We said, ok, we have the leadership material. Let’s train organizations on how to organize and have successful marches. Let’s have really good panel discussions and create a space for white young professionals so we can educate them on how to be an ally,” he said.

The organization is working with businesses on diversity training, something, Campbell noted, is too often asked of Black and Brown young professionals in the workplace.

“Let us help you redesign the social aspects of your organization so you don’t leave your Black and Brown staff out,” she said. “Let us help you redesign how you think of interacting with potential staff of color and let us show you how you can change your requirements to get a better more diverse pool of applicants.

Julia Brinjac: Innovation in state policy

When Julia Brinjac, policy director for the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities, first planned for what her career would be, she thought she would need to familiarize herself with one subject matter and find her niche.

Julia Brinjac

Brinjac’s work is instead quite the opposite. As a policy director for the state, Brinjac says she works with an expansive breadth of subject matter, stakeholders and challenges in topics spanning from data security and delivery and inclusion concerns in the financial sector to financial exploitation of seniors and updating the Pennsylvania Banking Code.

Brinjac spoke to the journal about her role in state government, how young people can succeed in the government sector and how the pandemic affected her work.


CPBJ: How would you describe your work as policy director at the state Department of Banking and Securities? What is your day to day like?

Brinjac: As policy director, I see my role as one largely consisting of support, communication, and research. I serve as a dual report to both the Department of Banking & Securities and the Governor’s Policy Office, which makes me a conduit for information and policy priorities in both offices.

Truly, no two days in the policy office are the same, which is one of the joys of my job. One day I may be working on analyzing a new proposed federal regulation or advising on legislation, and the next I may be researching new changes and challenges in financial technology (FinTECH).

What remains consistent is the talent of the staff I work with and the diversity of projects I have the privilege to participate in.


CPBJ: What drove you to work in policy?

Brinjac: I began my career in the Pennsylvania State Senate as a legislative aide with no prior experience and I was stunned at the breadth of subject matter I dealt with daily through bill analysis and covering senate committee hearings. The ability to pivot from one subject to the next became second nature.

I have always considered myself both naturally curious and an “idea person,” and policy work is the place of the possible. I enjoy problem-solving and it is immensely gratifying to be able to utilize unique, out-of-the box thinking daily in my job. It’s a dream to be in a role where I am helping drive the direction of the Commonwealth.


CPBJ: What advice would you give young professionals working in the government sector?

Brinjac: Keep being curious and seek learning experiences or advice from your more seasoned co-workers.

Government touches so many industries and the way it weaves in and out of these sectors creates opportunities for cross-learning that is invaluable. Also, never forget that there are people impacted by everything you do, and government work is ultimately about service to the people impacted by your work.

Young professionals in government are a critical sounding board for policies and implementation of programs. The world changes so rapidly, and younger professionals often have a pulse on how these changes may impact programs that the government currently implements or is seeking to implement.

Keep innovating and offering your perspective because even though your experience may be limited in years, it is incredibly valuable in the context of the world today.


CPBJ: What do you wish you knew going into it?

Brinjac: How fulfilling it would be! Government is often viewed as a red tape entity or the bureaucracy, but it is a critical organization to ensure everything from appropriate market regulation to supporting our most vulnerable citizens.

There is a shift happening in government towards recognizing the need for adaption and innovation. For example, the Commonwealth has the Governor’s Office of Performance through Excellence with the role of helping to cut red tape and help government at all levels become nimbler.


CPBJ: How did you keep sane during quarantine? How did the pandemic affect your work?

Brinjac: COVID has certainly impacted things like my commute or the way I communicate with my staff and co-workers, but other than that, my days remain filled with projects and helping facilitate the priorities of the governor and the department.

If anything, I find that I have more work now than I ever have. For instance, part of my job is keeping an eye on what the federal government is doing, and there has been no shortage of legislation, policy shifts, and regulation.

A great example is the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which helped provide over $20 billion in relief to Pennsylvania’s businesses facilitated through financial institutions across the state in the wake of COVID. There is no shortage of work to be done; just the view out of my office window has changed.

Personally, I find that keeping myself sane during quarantine has been an interesting experience. My fiancé is a nurse and though I worry about him being at work, I am very proud of the work he has done and continues to do.

Given the transition to working from home, it has been more important than ever to use my non-work hours to find creative outlets to relieve stress and re-energize.  As a competitive powerlifter, it was hard to abruptly halt my training! I ended up downloading the Peloton app and utilizing a spin bike that had been collecting dust in a corner of my den which reinvigorated my former love of spinning.

I also tried my hand at baking bread, like everyone else, and discovered I have exactly zero aptitude for baking. While quarantine may continue to be a challenge for me, I have discovered that my dog and cats firmly believe that it has been the best thing to ever happen to them.


Tech savvy staffers prove to be important assets at home

When Erin Zakin got the message that she’d be working from home for the foreseeable future, she wasn’t worried.

A social person who would choose working in the office over working from home, Zakin, communications ­­­director for the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC, had reservations about the change, but had the technical literacy to make that shift successful.

Rather than needing a company laptop or being faced with working at a spot in her home that wasn’t conducive to work, she already had a computer set up with an ergonomic work station for recreational use.

“All I had to do was get my personal computer set up with VPN remote technology,” Zakin said. “Having an ergonomic setup for my computer was already important to me—having a desk, desk chair and a large monitor to work from makes it so much easier.”

Zakin and other young professionals such as Tierney Pomone, account manager for Harrisburg-based Enders Insurance, have had to deal with the realities of self-quarantining like everyone else. But, having grown up with video conferencing and the internet, younger employees are proving to be an important asset as businesses navigate what it means to work remotely.

For some of Pomone’s coworkers at Enders Insurance, the loss of physical meetings has been difficult to cope with, especially for those individuals who have been using the same processes for years.

Pomone said that because she was able to quickly adapt to remote working since she already was familiar with the conference call apps her employer is using. That freed her to help her coworkers get up to speed on tech they may not be familiar with.

“For myself and other coworkers of similar age, it isn’t uncommon for us to do a Facetime meetup randomly on a Saturday,” she said. “It has been fun and rewarding to show my other coworker how these tools work. They’ve taught us how to do our jobs and now we can show them how to do things in a different way.”

When Gov. Tom wolf first ordered non-essential businesses to close their doors and begin working remotely, most businesses anticipated they would be closing for two to three weeks.

After the realization struck that the Harrisburg Chamber would not be able to reopen so quickly, Zakin said it became that much more important to have a team that could shift everything the chamber had done in person online, including physical events and board and committee meetings.

Zakin suggests allowing staff members with the most experience in apps such as Facetime, Microsoft Teams and Zoom to set up meetings, because those are the staff members who may have the experience to tell callers to mute their mics on entry and when to turn off webcams.

While issues such as keeping a mic on despite background noise may be small, nuances of technical literacy like that can mean a lot when it comes to messaging, she said.

“Even if the content is great, if the message is coming to someone poorly, that’s what people will remember,” Zakin said. “It’s hard because very piece of technology is different, but there are patterns you can look for and we can sit that and find those things that need to be identified.”

But the tech-literate members of a team also need to be patient during times of high stress like this, said Pomone. “If we can keep being patient, that is very important right now,” she said. “These tasks and these tools may come very easy for a lot of people but they don’t for everyone.”

No matter how literate someone is with technology, both Zakin and Pomone agreed it has been difficult to stay focused outside of the office. Zakin said that because she spends her free time on the computer, she has to be sure she is closing apps and chat windows that her friends utilize now that they have more free time.

“There is always a temptation to do something that I wouldn’t be doing if I wasn’t working from home,” she said. “There has to be some separation.”

On the other hand, she said it’s easier for her to work for hours without a break at home—something that would normally be broken up by a conversation with a coworker or a walk to get a cup of coffee.

Because of that, Pomone said it’s important to check up on coworkers and remind them to make themselves a cup of coffee or take a look out of a window.


Lititz CPA firm promotes two staff members to partner

Sara Bruton and Josh Shroyer, two employees who have worked at Simon Lever since graduating college, were promoted to partners. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)

Lititz- based business advisory and CPA firm, Simon Lever, promoted two employees who have worked at the firm since graduating college.

Sara Bruton and Josh Shroyer, who joined the firm in 2009 and 2007 respectively, were announced as its newest partners on Friday. Both were employed by the firm directly out of college and moved through the firm’s ranks in the past 10 and 13 years, making the move to partner the next natural step, said Jason McDougall, managing partner at Simon Lever.

“We are so proud to see our own rise through the ranks with such unwavering dedication to our growing company,” said McDougall. “They will serve as great role models to those looking to advance their own careers here at Simon Lever.”

Bruton joined Simon Lever as a staff accountant. Over the years she helped the firm start its own summer internship and externship programs. The Messiah College graduate serves as the firm’s operational team chair and also serves as a mentor to the firm’s incoming young professionals.

“I realize the vast importance of investing in our people, discovering their strengths and aligning those strengths with company needs, as their success directly correlates to the success of the clients we serve and the firm itself,” Bruton said.

Shroyer, a graduate of Penn State, leads the firm’s advisory services team, which provides services such as succession planning, estate tax considerations and business valuation.

Shroyer and Bruton are part of an effort by the firm to attract and retain young professionals, which the company noted it will continue to push for as its older employees begin to seek retirement.

Harrisburg Young Professionals announces 2020 leadership team

Renee Custer, COO of The Custer Group in Harrisburg, was appointed to be Harrisburg Young Professionals’ 2020 president. (Photo Provided)

Harrisburg Young Professionals appointed its latest suite of leaders, including a new president, for the upcoming year.

Renée Custer, the nonprofit’s former executive director, will be rejoining the young professionals group, or HYP, as its president for 2020.

Custer originally joined HYP in 2011, where she was a key part in growing partnerships and programming and helped move the nonprofit away from a volunteer structure, the organization wrote in a press release on Tuesday.

Harrisburg Young Professionals has operated in the city for 21 years and has over 1,000 members. The group hosts book clubs, philanthropy events, socials and co-ed sports events for its members, all under the age of 40.

“HYP is a special organization, and I am honored to work alongside our leadership team this year to continue the mission of making Harrisburg a better place to live, work and play, while developing and retaining future leaders,” said Custer.

Custer resigned as HYP’s executive director in 2015 and is currently the COO of The Custer Group, a Harrisburg-based construction firm specialized in luxury homes, interior design and remodeling.

HYP’s new president has been featured numerous times in the Central Penn Business Journal as a 2018 recipient of the Women of Influence award and a 2016 recipient of the Forty Under 40 award.

HYP appoints a new group of leaders every year to guide the nonprofit.

Along with Custer’s appointment, the organization also announced Mary Kate Grimes, of Hershey’s Ice Cream and Faniel Yemane, of iDrive Interactive as vice presidents.

Monika Kohli of anculture was appointed as the organization’s secretary and Nick Barbera, of SunStone Consulting, as treasurer.

She’s all about beating cancer


The 2020 race for “Man and Woman of the Year” is one time when it’s acceptable to buy your way to the top. In fact, it’s expected.

As one of the biggest annual fundraisers for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, this philanthropic competition has raised thousands of dollars in the race for blood cancer cures.

To be a candidate for the title, you have to know how to raise mountains of money. That includes surrounding yourself with a team of that also knows how to make money, because in this competition, the winner is the person who can bring home the most dough.

The candidates have 10 weeks to raise as much money as they can and every dollar counts as a vote.

Tara Reyka, Camp Hill, is the Senior Director of Development for the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and it’s her task to find good potential candidates for this fundraising competition.

Tara Reyka, Camp Hill, of Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society with Tara, a blood cancer survivor and the 2018 Girl of the Year. PHOTO/SUBMITTED

“They’re typically influential members of the community,” she said. “It’s a small but elite group of people; about 10 to 12 candidates.”

Finding these special people takes teamwork, so the LLS has an executive leadership team to develop a list of potential candidates.

Reyka works with each candidate to develop a strategic fundraising plan.

“They all have very busy schedules so we look at what we can do around their lifestyle,” she said.

Candidates for Man or Woman of the Year can be self-nominated or nominated by a peer.

This coming year, 2020, coincidentally marks the 20th anniversary of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Reyka said.

After candidates are chosen, they build their own teams to help raise funds, whether that’s through marketing, corporate sponsorships or other means.

The 10-week challenge will begin March 27 this year and continue ’til June 5.

At the finale of the challenge, the two who have raised the most money will be announced Man and Woman of the Year, and receive a plaque marking their accomplishment.

The Boy and Girl of the Year will be honored at the finale, too. They are two of the children for whom the money is being raised. “They are our honored heroes; patients and survivors,” Reyka said.

In total, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has raised 1.2 billion dollars for research to eradicate blood cancers.

“LLS is at the forefront of cancer cures, but we’ve still got work to do,” Reyka said, noting that about every three minutes someone in the United States is diagnosed with a type of blood cancer.

“It’s absolutely incredible what we’re doing; the treatments we’re funding and the advancements being made,” she said.

In the last two years, the FDA has approved 50 treatments to fight blood cancers and 43 of those were through research funded by the LLS.

“I love that we have these tangibles to show we are making progress,” Reyka said.

LLS’s motto is “beating cancer is in our blood.”

Originally from central Pennsylvania, Reyka was in San Diego visiting her mother a few years ago when she learned about the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Her mom, in her 50s at the time, was training to run in a marathon for LLS to raise money for the Society.

Reyka was both proud of her mom and got interested in the cause.

Funds raised by the “Man and Woman of the Year” challenge go directly to the LLS mission and funding research is a priority.

“Another big focus is supporting our patients locally,” Reyka said.

That includes several support groups and an information center that is a free resource for patients and their families.

LLS also supports patients financially, distributing close to $700,000 in financial assistance to blood cancer patients in central Pennsylvania, she said.

Whether you come out on top or a few rungs further down on the ladder, everyone who raises money for the LLS is a winner, Reyka said.


Banks look at a younger generation to fit growing workforce gap

The desire to pursue a career in financial services drove Admir Jadaic, a student at Franklin and Marshall College, to work as a janitor for Goldman Sachs and an elevator operator at the Bank of America.

Jadaic most recently joined a group of 19 students in a week-long banking boot camp as part of a Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities initiative to bring more young people into a financial industry in need of new faces.

The business, organizations and society major and his peers are a rarity in the current banking landscape. Rather than finding students driven to join the industry like Jadaic, banks are realizing that the incoming workforce is unaware that the industry has more to offer than accounting and bank teller positions.

“If you ask a younger person about jobs at a bank they will name a mortgage officer or a teller, that’s what they think we offer,” said Troy Peters, president and CEO of Jonestown Bank and Trust. “But in reality we have IT, marketing, security and human resources.”

With more technology being utilized in banking, organizations such as Harrisburg-based PSECU have added positions in data analytics and digital marketing but find that the number of qualified candidates applying are decreasing.

Initiatives like the state Department of Banking and Securities’ boot camp, known as the Next Generation Bankers Academy, are trying to educate students on how they can apply their majors into the financial industry and take advantage of those openings.

The Pennsylvania Bankers Association and the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers, both based in Harrisburg, worked alongside the department to create the second annual bankers academy, held in August.

The push to drive interest is coming at a time where many banking staff and executives are reaching retirement age and a lack of new recruitments could cause problems for a company’s succession plan.

“We will be losing bankers to retirement and with this program and other programs, the intent is to introduce young, aspiring professionals to our industry and for them to work their way into those senior positions,” said Duncan Campbell, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Banker’s Association.

Jonestown Bank and Trust has attended the academy during both years and Peters said that today’s students who were coming of age at the time of the Great Recession and saw their neighbors and family foreclose on their homes could also be seeing the industry in a negative light.

“While we weren’t part of that, I think we are lumped in with Wall Street and the financial industry. Life experience can influence that,” he said.

At the academy, students met with representatives from local community banks such as C&N, Orrstown and Fulton. Senior management from local banks led classes with the students that covered the various careers available to them within the industry.

“The learning never stopped no matter who you spoke to, no two days were the same,” Jadaic said. “Everyone was motivated and everyone wanted to help one another.”

This year’s academy was held in various locations throughout Lancaster city and admitted 19 students out of 30 possible seats. Secretary Robin Wiessmann of the state Department of Banking and Securities, said that she sees there being an incremental growth to the program over the coming years but that the goal of such a program is to give students the opportunity to work one on one with the area’s banking leaders.

Kevin Shivers, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers, said that the participation is a great starting point for a program focused on getting into the details of a career in finances.

“As the students have a chance to move into the private sector and have an opportunity to explore a career in banking, word of mouth is certainly going to grow the program,” Shivers said.

The department has also spearheaded the state’s participation in the national Community Bank Case Study Competition, another attempt to grow student interest in banking and finance. In the competition, students create original case studies on topics relevant to community banks and this year, students from Juniata College in Huntingdon County won.

Wiessmann said the competition is an example of a program in which the state initially had a small participation, with only two schools and grew to having the largest amount of entrants in the competition at 13.

Any potential increase in the banking workforce would impact rural banks the most, according to Peters. Community banks like Jonestown have a smaller talent pool to find applicants from and the hope is to bring more of those students to the cities between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Looking at future opportunities in the financial industry, Shivers noted that emerging industries like cannabis banking could be a big draw for the incoming workforce.

“You have this emerging industry in Pennsylvania yet at the federal level it is illegal, how do you navigate those issues?” he asked. “There are a lot of challenges out there but there is also a lot of opportunity.”

See the honorees: Forty Under 40 Class of 2019

The Central Penn Business Journal is proud to announce the winners of its 25th annual Forty Under 40 awards, which recognize up-and-coming leaders in Central Pennsylvania.

The winners include attorneys and accountants, CEOs and a variety of other executives and leaders. They will be honored Monday, October 7, 2019, at the Hilton Harrisburg. Winners are listed alphabetically by last name.

Click here for more details about the event.

Click here to see this year’s list.

New leaders selected for John Dame training

Ten up-and-coming executives in Central Pennsylvania have signed on for a leadership development program run by executive coach John Dame.

The program, dubbed the 10 New Leaders Project, offers participants 90 days of coaching by a coach from CEO peer group Vistage, as well as other opportunities to learn and network from established leaders.

The participants are:

  • Danielle Mariano, director of the bureau of budget and fiscal management in the Pennsylvania Department of Education
  • Joelle Shea, corporate communications manager for Gannett Fleming
  • Julie Walker, executive director of The Peyton Walker Foundation
  • Andy Shoop, controller at Advanced Powder Products
  • Kara Luzik Canale, vice president of chamber operations, Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC
  • Allan Mitchell, project engineer at KCI Technologies Inc.
  • Ettel Feinberg, manager of employee experience at U-GRO Learning Centres
  • James Scott, CEO of Team Scott Inspire
  • Luke Salter, account leader at Wenger Feeds
  • Christopher Boyd, account executive for Conexus

“Central Pennsylvania is rich in outstanding leadership, and these 10 participants are fine examples of what it means to be excellent leaders in the business market today,” Dame, founder of Dame Management Strategies, said in a statement.

In a new twist for the program, Dame plans to pair new participants with mentors who were past participants in the program. Participants also will be able to attend Dame’s Evolution Leadership Conference, slated for Oct. 8 at Spooky Nook Sports complex in Lancaster County.