CU Denver Students with Jim Reuter, CEO of First Bank

Jim Reuter, CEO of First Bank, joined students at CU Denver’s Business School for a night of conversation and networking on Feb. 9 at the Jake Jabs Center.

During the conversation, Jim shared insight on how to lead in a constantly changing world and ways to navigate companies to success. When asked about leadership planning strategies, Jim said that great leaders plan out clear strategies and objectives to reach defined business goals. Having your compass set promotes productivity around what businesses plan to get done today and in years to come.

When posed with the question, ‘What does leadership mean to you?’ Jim shared leaders must remain flexible and open to shifting gears. Leaders who possess the ability to adapt and collaborate on solutions strengthen businesses to persevere through unexpected changes without compromising integrity.

First Bank’s ability to adapt quickly under pressure was instrumental during the COVID-19 pandemic. With so many unknowns, Jim was challenged as a leader and shared First Bank’s accomplishments navigating sharp increases in managing online purchasing through online systems, as well as changes in SBA paycheck protections.

Jim also encouraged leaders to be authentic and open to listening to everyone in the room. He shared his personal strategy of always being the last person to present in a meeting so everyone around him feels heard.

“I am not the smartest person in the room,” said Jim. Listening first is how he creates a collaborative culture. When it comes to authenticity, he told students, “Get excited about who you are, how you are growing, and what difference you are making to others”.

He assured students that all leaders make mistakes, but good leaders take the time to be honest and transparent with their employees when a mistake has been made. Taking accountability for mistakes, no matter a person’s title, is an important trait of great leaders. 

Finally, Jim discussed the importance of building on diversity at First Bank and hiring based on “who” not “what”. He shared that 60% of First Bank’s management are women, and the workforce is 37% non-white. Retaining top talent and providing professional development opportunities is also a priority at First Bank. Additional support is provided for employees through a manager trainee program to help strengthen leaders with top tier banking and leadership skills.

CU Denver Business School is grateful for leaders like Jim who lead by example and inspire the future generation of business leaders.

For more information about guest speakers at CU Denver’s Business School and upcoming events, check out our event’s page:

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