Member Profile - Tricia Balser

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Tricia Balser
Managing Director and Head of Ohio Commercial Banking

ACG Member Since: 2007
ACG Involvement: ACG Board Member and Chair of the Women in Transactions Committee

How have you had to adapt your business model during the shutdown? What has worked and what hasn’t?

CIBC was an early adopter of the work-from-home protocol beginning in early March. We worked quickly to transition all non-essential employees to home offices, virtual meetings, and online training sessions by effectively implementing our disaster recovery protocol. We made the necessary, temporary shift away from new client development to giving our full attention to the needs of our existing client base and guiding them through the PPP to deliver the funds in a timely fashion.

For this, CIBC took a very hands-on, personal approach as opposed to a technology-based portal, and the results were telling. The lesson was that even in this age of immediacy and efficiency, the human interaction and support of a relationship manager won the day. I have to say I am incredibly proud of how our team, and the bank as a whole, was able to continue to meet the needs of our clients with very little interruption. That said, I sense the novelty of WFH has worn off, Zoom-fatigue has set in, and the business developers are eager to get out there and do what they do best — find deals (and there are deals out there!) At the end of the day, I think what makes it "work" is when you love your job. The motivation is always there when you love your job.

What has surprised you most during this period?

I have been encouraged by the resiliency, generosity, and resourcefulness of our communities. Sometimes we have to search very hard to find a bright spot. I am hopeful that this can be a turning point; a chance to bring about positive change and reform.

How are you staying connected with your network?

As an ACG Board Member and Chair of the Women in Transactions Committee, I am relying on the exciting virtual sessions the ACG Cleveland chapter has hosted. If readers have not taken advantage of the ACG, Women In Transactions, or Young ACG Zoom meetings, I highly encourage you to check them out. Our committees are working incredibly hard to continue to bring you relevant and diverse content. In these physically distant times, it is more important than ever to maintain your network and seek opportunities to engage with others. I welcome anyone who is interested to learn more to reach out to me.

Do you think we will see lasting changes to how we do business as a result of this?

I do think as we emerge from the stay-at-home orders across the country that business models in the future will be a hybrid of working remotely and working in an office location. It is undeniable that there is a benefit to the camaraderie of daily interactions and exchanges. As one who appreciates and seeks out the humor in life, the solitude of home offices can be a challenge. I find I have to rely on reruns of Impractical Jokers (literally dozens) for my daily dose of humor and levity, instead of the humor provided by the "impractical jokers" in our office.

Has there been a "silver lining" for you and if so, what is it?

One silver lining has definitely been the new-found time to spend with my family. Home-schooling aside — because that was not fun — it has been nice to have lunches and dinners with each other. My children have been able to get back out on the baseball/softball fields again (with the proper protocols, of course), so it has been fun to get outside and enjoy their games, which I could do only to a lesser degree when we were still "business as usual" and traveling for work.

What is your favorite ACG Cleveland event and why?

The Summer Social at the Shoreby is always a crowd favorite. I also look forward each year to the Great Lakes Capital Connection, and look forward to its eventual return to Cleveland. I would be remiss to not acknowledge, though, that I am partial to the ideas and content that the very talented WiT committee has consistently delivered to the ACG audience.

We have some events that have become so popular we have made them recurring events annually (a golf outing for all skill levels, White Elephant Gift Exchange, etc.), but the team spends a lot of time brainstorming new ideas for events that are unique, interesting, and worthy of your time investment. Historically, think yoga retreat, self-defense class, wine and canvas, seminars on negotiating nuances between men and women, etc. Looking forward, think unconscious bias/conscious inclusion event (as demonstrated with wine and chocolate!), personal finance retreat, wine knowledge event, etc., all with a focus on highlighting women-owned businesses and women in transactions. I recognize that I just named about 10 events rather than one, which is telling!