Citizens Bank: Business After Hours

Citizens Bank hosted the Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce (HACC) for a "Business After Hours," event on Tuesday, September 29, 2009. The event commenced with opening comments from HACC Chairman of the Board Ariel E, Schmidt. Ariel welcomed the membership and thanked the hosts of Citizens Bank for a great event, and then introduced Steve Woods, the President of Citizens Bank of Massachusetts, Steve welcomed the membership and made interesting comments on how receptive Citizens is and will be to HACC members. He noted that the speaker Tom O'Leary would cover topics of interest to the membership and that he was available to assist in business growth.

Jeanne Hulit was introduced as the Regional Administrator of the US Small Business Administration (SBA). Jeanne commented on the welcome she received from the bank and from the HACC and noted that the SBA was committed to helping out through financing options, counseling services, and training.

The next speaker introduced by Jeanne was the keynote speaker of the evening Thomas (Tom) O'Leary, who is the Executive Vice President of Specialized Lending. The topic of Tom's talk was "Access to Credit," a very compelling topic considering the current economic climate. First though, Tom, mostly fluent in Spanish gave a brief on his background which included extensive bank operational experience in Latin America. This experience is from his 22 years of working in the Latin Department of Bank of Boston. Tom has spent the last 7.5 years of his banking career working for Citizens Bank in Boston. He discussed spending and savings trends of consumers and business leaders explaining how the current crisis has affected the way in which people spend and live. He then went on to elaborate how this affects the banks thinking when dealing with requests for credit and in to send money out into the community to promote growth and business success. Tom's riveting talk certainly kept the attention of the membership.

Upon the completion of Tom's talk, Alba Alavarez Cote, Vice Chair of the HACC, lead a question and answer session with all of the speakers present. The evening was informative and fun providing Alba with a lot of work in fielding, sorting, and presenting questions to the speakers.

Food and drinks, catered by HACC member Oriental de Cuba, followed with a very interactive networking session that not surprisingly kept everyone there until at least 30 minutes after the intended ending time of this timely and informative event.