It’s a Journey: Leadership Insight from Our Regional Presidents

LeadershipRegionalPresidents

The three Regional Presidents on our Executive Leadership Team, Dan Massett, Andrew Guzzo and Lawrence “Skip” Stovern, have nearly 100 combined years of experience in business, banking and leadership. Dan guides the Central Region, Andrew leads our Winona and Southern Regions, and Skip takes care of the Twin Cities Region.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Dan: When I was a little kid I wanted to play in the NBA. I loved basketball, I loved the team aspect and camaraderie of it. Once I got to college, I realized that probably wasn’t realistic, and neither was my other dream of being a general manager of a basketball team.

But I liked putting pieces of a larger entity together, I liked motivating people. After touring a community bank in college I realized that banking and business required a lot of the things I liked: working with a variety of people to create teams and put pieces together to achieve a greater goal.

Andrew: I always gravitated toward business. When I was young I’d shovel snow, deliver papers, mow lawns. I’ve always been passionate and curious about business.

Skip: I wanted to be a kid! I liked being a kid. But actually, I wanted to be a hockey player. I looked up to the players and the coaches that worked together as a cohesive unit. I loved the environment: I could see the passion everyone had for the game and it motivated us all to work hard.

Tell us about your time before Merchants.

Dan: I’ve been with Merchants since 2014, but I have almost 30 years of business banking experience, which include years as a community bank president before I became the President of the Central Region for Merchants.

Andrew: I started at Merchants in 2017, but before that, I had been in the banking industry for 11 years. Prior to my time in banking, I spent 15 years in sales management with US Foods.

Skip: I started at Merchants in December of 2006. Before that, I worked in the banking industry in Duluth, Minnesota for almost 30 years where I held a variety of positions. While I was a commercial banker I worked with businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Do you have a favorite quote?

Dan: I have a couple:

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John F. Kennedy

“Only those who dare to fail greatly are those that will achieve greatly.” – Robert Kennedy

At the executive level, we make decisions that have the potential to fail. But we need to be comfortable making decisions that will help us continue to grow and get to the next level.

Andrew: “Overachievers hate mediocre people, and mediocre people hate overachievers.”  –  Nick Saban

I do believe in having a balanced approach to perfection: don’t settle, we can always improve, but it’s also necessary to take a moment to celebrate the successes.

Skip: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” – John Wooden

For me, preparation is one of my strengths and one of the aspects I focus on in my leadership style.

What does “leadership” mean to you?

Dan: A leader is someone who has patience, listens, is kind and humble, motivates their team to work hard toward a common goal and puts their needs before his or her own.

I’ve found that one of the most important things a leader does is listen. Truly listen and understand your employees, your customers. That empathy is what builds trust, and trust is one of the most important things in any relationship.

Andrew: Leadership is complex, it’s more advanced than being a manager. It’s someone who is fair, encouraging and supportive of their team. It’s someone that others gravitate toward.

The true mark of a strong leader is someone who maintains these qualities even when times are tough. It’s easy to be at the top of your game when everything is smooth-sailing, but when it’s time to navigate rough waters, a leader will remain calm, kind and make fair, educated decisions.

Skip: There are many different styles of leadership, and no one could ever know everything about leadership.

To be a leader, find out what your strengths are and how they help others, play to those, and never stop learning and evolving.

 

Our commitment to community banking starts with our Executive Leadership Team. The Team pursues continued company success by focusing on our foundation of building community through banking and our Merchants Bank mission and core values . Our Executive Team, which includes our Regional Presidents, works with our Market Presidents, Managers and all branch staff every day to ensure our customers come first.

Watch our video series to get to know our Executive Team.