Kyle Kennedy is definitely a glass-half-full person.
“I joined Bell Bank about six months before COVID happened,” says the president and Phoenix banking director for Bell Bank, who was hired to grow the bank’s presence in Arizona. “We get into March 2020 and I started thinking, ‘What is this going to do to banking?’”
What the pandemic did for Kennedy was shine a light on Bell Bank’s workplace culture.
“I was going after a large group of employees and those people were working from home,” Kennedy says. “I think other banks weren’t really focused on culture, they were focused on COVID-19. So employees were a little bit disenchanted and wanted to do something different, and along came Bell. And Bell has this great story, a great culture, a family ownership, wanting to make a difference in the world, and it resonated with all these people.”
Kennedy ended up hiring 25 new employees for his growing bank and is now setting out to help Bell Bank become the biggest bank in Arizona.
Az Business: How do you describe a good workplace culture?
Kyle Kennedy: I would say a good workplace culture is when you go to bed on Sunday night, you put your head on the pillow, and you’re not dreading going to work the next day. You’re excited to go work. I view the workplace as your second family. Theoretically, we spend more waking daylight hours with our work colleagues than we do with our family. So, I truly view it as a secondary family, so I want to hire to those people who can become part of my work family.
AB: How would you describe your leadership style?
Kyle Kennedy: I would say it’s morphed over time. In my first 15 or 20 years, I was green and learning. At that time, it was more about results. But my leadership style has changed. I’ve definitely become more flexible. I definitely look at the bigger picture. Hopefully it’s a trusting, sincere leadership style. It’s very collaborative. I try to hire people that are smarter and better than me, and I’m not threatened by that. I welcome it.
AB: Who’s your target customer?
Kyle Kennedy: It’s going to sound corny, but it’s that customer that has the same value proposition as us. I want a customer that wants a fair price, but really wants that full service, that full relationship. I want to be a trusted advisor, and I’m looking for a customer that really wants a peer-to-peer relationship with someone that can be consultative and really help them achieve whatever their goals are.
AB: What are your goals as the leader of Bell Bank in Arizona?
Kyle Kennedy: The short-term goal is just to maintain the culture. We hired 65 people over the past year and a half, and we’re probably going to hire another 15 people. You get people coming in from different organizations that have a different cultures. So my No. 1 goal is to make sure we maintain the Bell culture. And, knock on wood, so far that’s going fantastic. So short-term is maintain the culture, make sure we’re executing for the customer, and make sure it’s a really good experience, and then — long-term — grow the bank into the biggest bank in Arizona.