Leadership you can take to the bank

Marty Lanahan’s favorite quote is “Those who say it can’t be done shouldn’t interrupt the person doing it.” Although unattributed, the quote is perfect for a woman who steadily progressed up the leadership ladder at First Union National (now Wells Fargo) and Regions banks, while simultaneously following her passion for community involvement as an active board member and civic leader for numerous organizations.

Growing up in Greenville, South Carolina, Lanahan learned the values of teamwork and commitment during high school. One of only 50 students in her class, nearly everyone had to pitch in to field a sports team, put on a play or produce a yearbook. Those values served her well as she rose in the ranks from commercial leasing officer to commercial banking relationship manager to business banking sales manager and then to senior leadership appointments.

Lanahan points to her grandmother for instilling two additional values that shaped her career and life: living each day to the fullest and having fun. The night before she died in her sleep at age 101, her grandmother attended a dance at her retirement community. “There was no rest for her,” Lanahan recounts with a laugh.

The same can be said for Lanahan, who in addition to her new position as executive vice president and Tampa Bay market president for Iberiabank, holds board and chair positions at three charitable organizations. She took part in a Q&A session with TBBW, in which she talked about how her passion for problem-solving helped shape her career, what she loves about the Tampa Bay region, and why banking is a great career for women.

You have a successful career in commercial and consumer banking. To what do you attribute your success?

I believe in hard work and learning new things. When I graduated from a commercial banking management training program in 1987, I took the role of statewide commercial leasing expert. The expert was a bit of a stretch given that I had one day of training and was released to go prospect. I used every day to learn something new and stretch myself to prospect new opportunities. Before you know it, I became known as a leasing expert. I did the same thing with municipal banking when I was a commercial banker … with Treasury Management when I led the sales team for the state. 

 I also believe that leaders are most successful when they surround themselves with the right people—sprinkle in support, process, training and fun—and let them do their jobs. It is easy to see when you don’t have the right person, and, in that case, I love coaching people up or helping them find their passion in a different role. My most proud moment is when someone on the team has accomplished something they didn’t think they could do.

What prompted your recent move to Iberiabank? What about the position and company appealed to you?

Susie Martinez, regional president for Iberiabank, reached  out to me to discuss this new role. Having worked for, and reported to, Susie in a previous organization, it was easy to say yes to the conversation. Susie promoted me in my first large-geography leadership role when I was the area president, running Jacksonville to Pensacola, for a super-regional organization. She was the most supportive manager I ever had. She pushed me. She taught me. She made me a better leader.

I felt at home the minute I was exposed to the Iberiabank culture. We have the depth and resources of a large bank ($30 billion in assets), but, unlike many other banks, have local delivery of solutions for our clients. This market-centric approach to business fits with my personal commitment of delivering for clients. Iberiabank is relationship-focused, team-oriented, committed to community, focused on clients,and a great place for associates. So, it was easy to say yes.

 When I was traveling last year and enjoying my time away from work, I kept finding myself helping people with financial problems. A friend needed a new mortgage, another was getting divorced and needed to understand finances in general, my son’s best friend wanted to learn how to budget, a mentee of mine was starting a business and needed capital. I had opportunities to do things outside of banking, but, I confess, I love helping people solve problems. As such, there really aren’t any challenges. My challenge is when there isn’t a problem to solve or a company to grow, I get bored.

You’re a new resident of St. Petersburg region. What do you enjoy about living here? What are you excited about as the region continues to grow?

I love Tampa Bay. There is so much to do here. I love our museums, our sporting events, our theaters and our restaurants. I recently moved to St. Pete, and I love that I can ride my bike or walk to most anything I want to do. I love to travel and confess that Tampa International Airport is one of the easiest airports to move in and out of that I have ever been to, and the direct flights make it easy to travel anywhere you want to go. The community welcomes “outsiders” with open arms and allows a newcomer to plug in immediately. I am excited to meet more newcomers to the area as the region continues to grow. They will bring new ideas and fresh views.

 You do a lot of philanthropic work. Which organizations do you support and why?

Many years ago, I evoked a “Rule of Three” after a mentor suggested I might be tired because I was involved in too many things!  I am trying to stick to this but confess that given my desire to problem-solve, it is hard to say no. I serve on the board of the Moffitt Medical Group, the Tampa Museum of Art, and am chair of the Jesse Ball duPont Fund. We are so fortunate to have one of the country’s premier cancer (and research) centers, with Moffitt Cancer Center in our community. I learn something new every time I go to a board meeting and am optimistic that Moffitt will continue to find ways to improve cancer patient outcomes. I love contemporary art and am very impressed with Michael Tomar at the Tampa Museum. He has proven to be an innovative leader and a visionary museum director who curates exhibits that wow. The duPont Fund is a private foundation that supports communities where Jessie Ball duPont lived and organizations that she supported in her lifetime. All three organizations make my heart sing.

 You join a long list of powerful women in banking across the country. Why do you think women thrive in the banking industry?

Women have a lot of entry points in the banking industry and there are a lot of paths to take as they advance their career. I grew up in the commercial bank but really had four or five different careers over my 32 years in the business as I took on different specialties or roles. Women provide diversity in thought and process. I believe that our industry values that diversity because we are sensitive to the clients and communities that we serve—all very diverse. Having said that, not every bank has a diverse leadership team in the C-suite. One of the reasons I joined Iberiabank is that our CEO has a diverse leadership team with many female leaders in critical positions. Seeing that diversity at the top of Iberiabank sealed the deal for me to join the team.

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