Vol. 108 2024 No. 1 (Jan/Feb)


Chair Profile: Ben Bochnowski

Continuing a Legacy of Leadership, Community and Connection

What attracted you to banking as your career?

Banking was in my family and one of the first things I ever saw. At a young age, I was fortunate enough to observe firsthand the impact of banking on our communities, businesses and families, and saw how rewarding it was for my father and grandfather. Not many people get that kind of exposure that early in life, and it stuck with me.

What would you say was a pivotal moment in your career?

I’ve had many pivotal moments, but they all came after moments of failure. Making decisions to move forward, finding new skills and opportunities, and growing from experiences have always been the most transformative. We encounter failure all the time, and the learning and resilience that come from it have really shaped my career.

That said, the most pivotal moments sometimes come by chance. When I came to Peoples Bank, I had specific things I had hoped to contribute. Three years in, the company went into crisis when my father became sick due to Agent Orange exposure he experienced during his Army service in Vietnam. Our Board asked me to step into a day-to-day leadership role, and with some trepidation, I took it on. That moment made my career today possible. However, my success from that day on is thanks to the great team I have had the privilege of working with over the past decade. Without them, none of it would have been possible.

What do you most enjoy about banking?

Helping people. Our president, Todd Scheub, always says, “It’s a great day when you can help someone.” We help people all the time, from residents buying their dream homes to entrepreneurs establishing their businesses, and we build partnerships that help our local economies grow and thrive.

It’s a complicated industry, and incredible to think about the role banks play in their communities and the lives of their customers. In the interconnected world of finance, we get capital where it needs to go, and it is amazing to see the impact we can have as bankers.

How does IBA involvement help your career?

The exposure and relationships I have built have been the most rewarding part of my involvement with the IBA. Those relationships and the camaraderie they have inspired are what I can lean on to find new perspectives and ideas. That is what makes this such a great industry to be part of and a great state in which to live and work.

What are your leadership plans for the IBA?

Every year, the IBA gets better and builds on past success. My goal is to work with the Board and do just that. Jamie was passionate about political engagement, and we are on very solid footing there. As we move forward together, I aim to keep up that positive momentum by helping Amber and the team continue to execute our strategy. The IBA is one of the most fiscally sound associations in the country, and during potentially turbulent times, maintaining that financial leadership will be critical so we can be successful and serve our members well into the future.

What advice would you offer to young bankers beginning their careers?

Understanding relationships is key. A mentor of mine once told me, “People bank with people.” That couldn’t be truer today, especially as the industry changes and the day-to-day work environment changes. The corollary to that could be “people work with people,” and having relationships internally to get things done — along with externally to learn and grow — is essential. There is no substitute for spending time in the business and with people.

The other thing is to really understand the mechanics of the business. Banking is complex and interconnected, and understanding all its moving parts will help you make decisions that will enhance your customers’ experience.

If you weren’t a banker, what would be your career?

This is not an easy question to answer. I have a friend who always says you need to combine your passion with your profession, so if it weren’t banking, it would have something to do with leading teams. I love athletics as well, so I’m sure I would be thinking about coaching if I had any talent!

Who is an influential person in your life?

My father was definitely an influential person in my life, and there are many more in the banking industry who I could name. I was lucky enough to be able to watch my father in the Chairman role and then work with him for more than a decade. I learned a lot from him, both directly and indirectly.

Shawn Bennett, who has been my executive coach for half a decade, has really helped me grow as a leader. And I have to add my wife, Emma, as well. She has had an incredible career, is incredibly bright and talented, and has been an inspiration and source of support through both good times and bad.

Describe your home life. What do you like to do for fun?

I was an avid runner for more than a decade and completed a dozen marathons. The discipline and achievement were good for both my health and career, and the goals I set with running gave me the self-confidence to take on big challenges at work. In early 2023, I completed my final race of the six World Marathon Majors, which took more than a decade for me to complete and is a challenge only 10,000 people or so have ever done. The time requirement and physicality took a toll, though, so I have now officially retired from marathons.

Between busy schedules, my priority outside of work is to spend time with my wife. Spending time with her is what gives me the energy to do what I do at work!