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Cañon National Bank executive Spaeth thinks, works like an entrepreneur

Thu, Dec 13, 2012

One on One

Jesse Spaeth’s family moved to Colorado Springs when he was 3 — practically making him a native. Now 36, he has fond memories of skiing on Pikes Peak and remembers the town as a smaller community.

Just as much as he loved outdoor activities, he loved numbers. So he majored in finance and then landed his first job out of college at Norwest Bank, now Wells Fargo, as a credit underwriter.

He worked in banking, left banking and then came back to banking — mainly because the job lent him the opportunity to meet new people and hear their stories. Banking also is ideal for him because the numbers he works with add up to better the community. A business loan means jobs, which in turn mean increased community wealth.

Six months ago, Spaeth was recruited to be senior vice president/market president of Cañon National Bank in Colorado Springs. It’s a job he feels is as close to running his own business as he can get. He’s involved in the decisions in this market and has the freedom to grow the bank and be the face of the bank.

As a near-native of Colorado Springs, what is your fondest memory of growing up here?

I just remember it being a good place to grow up — lots of friends in the neighborhood. The city was a lot smaller back then, of course, so it seemed much more like a small community. I enjoy thinking about all the activities we did. I have fond memories of skiing on Pikes Peak. There was a tow rope my dad had to drag me up every time (fun for me — it was a lot of work for him).

You studied finance and then earned an MBA. What is it about numbers that you like?

I like what they lead to. I like they can be used to create something bigger and more important than themselves. For example, in my business, numbers and how they are interpreted can lead to a business getting a loan that increases productivity, creates jobs for the community and wealth for the owner. Numbers by themselves are important, of course, but it’s how they’re used that makes them interesting.

You left banking for a stint and then came back to it in 2006. What brought you back into the banking fold?

I was looking for a career that could bring together my love of numbers along with my love of being out in the community, meeting new people and learning about their business. When I first left banking, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do or what industry I would end up in. It was relatively easy to get back in at the time, as the economy was very healthy and banks were lending money as fast as they could. It’s been an interesting ride since that point, as obviously it is a much different environment now.

What do you like most about your job?

I like that it is as close as I can get to running my own business while still being in the banking world. If Cañon National is going to be a success or failure in Colorado Springs, it will ultimately be because of what I do and what my team here can do. That is sometimes a daunting thought but one that motivates me. I also like learning about and helping small-business owners. I’m always impressed with what business owners can build (typically from nothing), so learning about this and helping them grow their business is very satisfying.

You are the board president of Diabetes Community Center. What was your interest in joining this organization?

My son, Preston, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when he was 4 years old. The Diabetes Community Center was started by Andrea Houk, who also has Type 1. The DCC is dedicated to stopping diabetes and restoring hope and health to those touched by the disease. We do a lot of good in the community and try to educate people on the best way to fight this disease. DCC is part of this year’s IndyGive campaign. I would encourage everyone to log onto IndyGive.com and contribute to DCC or any other of the well-deserving local nonprofits.

Colorado Springs leaders have been focused on retaining and attracting young professionals. Do you have any advice about how they can reach that goal?

City leaders need a campaign that can promote all the things young professionals are looking for: the many outdoor activities, a progressive work environment, a night life and lots of other young professionals. Colorado Springs won’t ever be able to compete with the Chicagos and New Yorks of the world, but we need to clearly articulate what makes Colorado Springs special — and those interested in that kind of life will want to be here.

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