What a year!
I would like to start off by saying that, like most of you, I have experienced every emotion imaginable during 2020: excitement, fear, sadness, frustration, enjoyment, pride … I could go on, but I assume you get the picture. Through it all, I have learned plenty about myself, my friends and family, my coworkers, our industry, and our country. One commonality is that we all reached new heights as far as perseverance goes. Everyone longed for strong leadership this past year. In this era of uncertainty, such leadership was vital inside our individual banks and our overall industry, and I am proud of how the community banks and PACB not only rose to the challenge but truly shined.
As a leader in my organization, it is hard not to consider daily whether or not I am making all of the right decisions. There is always a struggle to balance what is best for the clients, the shareholders, and the staff, but this year, this challenge was heightened. Banks are essential and thus had to try to continue with “business as usual” while simultaneously combatting all of the uncertainties and this roller coaster ride of emotions. Every decision we’ve made, whether to close a branch, have part of the staff work from home, or work endless hours processing PPP loans, has had an impact on us as individuals, businesses, and the overall economy. While this community we’ve created has undoubtedly faced an array of ups and downs, one thing I can say for certain is that I never felt alone. We all have fought through this pandemic together as one unit and in turn, have built strong bonds with one another throughout this year.
There is a reason I have started and plan on ending my career in community banking: we strengthen communities by cultivating relationships. Whether it is the relationships with the clients, our coworkers, our congressmen, or the other industry leaders, the “community” of community banking runs strong. The relationships I have made through PACB were vital in these trying times. PACB has proven its worth to my organization this past year. They kept us as an industry connected and informed while continuing to advocate for issues that our members value. This year will be vital in building new relationships with a new federal administration, and PACB is well equipped to do so.
In conclusion, every challenge brings change, and change provides an opportunity. This year gave us all an opportunity to grow as leaders and overcome adversity while solidifying relationships. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I want to thank the PACB staff for providing well-needed guidance and the community banks for standing strong throughout this year.
I look forward to us all getting back together in person and can’t wait to see you all at the PACB convention in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2021!
Lori Cestra –
Chair of PACB, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Enterprise Bank