Greg Braca knew he would face difficult challenges in 2017 when he first took on the role of TD Bank President & CEO. However, no one could have anticipated that he'd have to lead and navigate the bank through an unparalleled global pandemic.
Despite the uncertainty, Greg remained steadfast in his optimism throughout 2020 that if TD colleagues "rallied together as a group, as a team and as an organization, we were going to be fine."
"As long as we can keep people as safe as we possibly can, we'll figure out a way to get through this together," he said.
His strong leadership was seen far beyond the walls of TD Bank. Greg was named as an honoree of the Power 100 by the Philadelphia Business Journal for his inspirational leadership during this difficult year.
Greg spoke about his experiences during the past year in a recent interview.
How much has your role as the leader of the bank changed since you first became President & CEO?
What we're doing has evolved because of the pandemic. Our rhythms have been interrupted. We're trying to manage thousands of people from remote distances and keep our culture thriving.
Yet, the overall goals of the bank have remained the same. How do we provide safety and soundness as a bank? How do we make sure that we are America's Most Convenient Bank?
Nothing really changed with our macro strategies. But a lot of the tactics and other things that we're doing to get there have changed.
If you'd have asked me 12 months ago, how are we going to get 90% of our 27,000 colleagues working from home, still keep the lights on, still grow the bank and invest for the future, I would have said, 'wow, I don't know how the heck we do that and still serve our customers.' But in very short order, we found a way to do it last spring. We've gotten pretty good at it.
How has our experience with COVID-19 changed your leadership approach at TD Bank?
As I think about the day-to-day, it's how are we helping our people manage their professional and personal lives, because it's all been mingled together.
What I am most proud of is the sense of empathy around the organization - how are we picking up because a team member or family member contracted the virus. It's how we stepped up as a bank, as far as relief, support and time away to take care of what matters most – our overall well-being.
Although the pandemic is something the world hasn't gone through in more than a hundred years, we've been able to see positive impacts at TD in how we interact with each other and how we run the organization.
When we really had to, it was the speed that we did things - in days and hours, not months and years. So, moving forward, we must have that muscle memory to make sure we use that same sense of urgency to bring the bank back post pandemic. It was amazing to watch what was pulled off in real time when we really had to.
What would you describe as the bank's greatest accomplishment, its finest moment to date?
I think it's a culmination. Here is a terrific example that I keep mentioning- the fact that we got everybody working from home and productive. I think this was no small feat.
A couple of weeks later there was the rollout of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). We used all our capabilities and digital tools over a weekend to build a digital application and we just did it. Thousands of colleagues across the bank volunteered to support PPP including Retail, Shared Services, Risk, Compliance, Legal, Regulatory Relationships & Government Affairs, Marketing, Technology and more. Watching the bank rally and come together around a common purpose and outcome, it made me feel very, very proud.
Almost a year later, we're sitting here, and I can honestly tell you the bank is stronger today. We're poised to grow the bank, to execute and to serve our customers. It's been a remarkable 12 months.
During this time with less business travel, many people have been watching movies and viewing other forms of the arts and entertainment. Is there one that you particularly enjoyed this year?
I had some extra time, although a lot less than you would expect. I've been watching Netflix programs. One show I really enjoyed was Yellowstone.
It's also been great to see sports back on the airwaves again. I enjoy watching baseball, football and golf as well.