Five Questions With: Colin Gillespie

Colin Gillespie, senior vice president, brand marketing, for Webster Bank, joins the Waterbury, Conn.-headquartered bank after a long career with the Lego Group, most as president, Lego Education North America, where he designed multi-year strategic growth plans to maximize sustainable market leadership in the U.S. and Canadian education markets.  Since 2017, Gillespie had worked as an Executive in Residence at New Profit, a Boston-based national nonprofit venture philanthropy fund.

PBN: How do you think Webster Bank is perceived at the present time by the banking public?

GILLESPIE: We are pleased that customers voted us a “Best Bank” from Providence to Waterbury, where we were founded. We take great pride in our reputation, and we believe it is recognition of our efforts to provide exceptional customer service on a consistent basis that the bank receives many accolades and awards.

PBN: What is the key to attracting and retaining customers during this time of changing expectations in the way banking services are delivered?

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GILLESPIE: Delivering superior customer service every day is our hallmark, whether in our banking centers, on the phone, online or through a mobile device. The recent J.D. Power rankings validated our work – customer surveys placed our bank above the region average based on several factors, including communication and advice, problem resolution, convenience, and products and fees.

Still, providing consistent exceptional customer service mandates that we continue to strive to truly understand our customers’ needs and respond with the right solutions to help individuals, families and businesses achieve their financial goals. Our research shows that our customers are highly motivated in their personal lives and business endeavors, yet they don’t want their money management to interfere with everyday life. And, that’s where Webster comes in as a trusted adviser.

PBN: How does an organization’s culture affect brand?  

GILLESPIE: A brand can be considered a promise to its customers to consistently deliver on expected benefits. Just so, an organization’s culture reliably delivers its employees and stakeholders a work experience that makes it motivating and engaging to deliver for the customer and each other.

The most successful organizations include their cultural values as core elements of their brand, and their employees naturally act and thrive as brand ambassadors. I am pleased to say, at Webster Bank, our culture inspires my colleagues and I to deliver an ambitious brand promise every day through our five values, termed “The Webster Way.” In fact, leveraging these values is the foundation for relationship-led banking designed to assist our customers in meeting and exceeding their next challenge.

PBN: It has been said that you know how to inspire teams around a common purpose. How do you get people to pull together, especially when fresh thinking is in order?

GILLESPIE: I have always been attracted to leaders who connect the strategy of the business to the work we do, clearly, consistently and inspirationally. These leaders have taught me that the glue for sustained success and employee engagement is to convey a sense of something bigger then the individual.

Where it comes alive to me is to live that purpose as a leader. Authentically reflect on who you are to your team, and know what you stand for. Make your words match your actions.  Attach commercial goals to releasing employee potential. Finally, really care and truly listen so that fresh, innovative ideas are nurtured and celebrated.

PBN: You worked for 17 years with The Lego Group, promoting a nearly universally loved toy. By contrast, do you expect it will be difficult to market complicated banking products to a diverse mix of customers with different banking needs?

GILLESPIE: In my professional life, I carry on the mission to deliver products and services that release untapped potential in others (customers, employees, family). A Lego brick experience provides children learning and inspiration that contributes to adaptability and creativity critical to achieving their dreams as adults. Likewise, at Webster Bank we aim to provide individuals, families and businesses financial tools and services that enable them to achieve what they thought was impossible or even just improbable. Communicating the mindset of helping customers achieve their dreams is relevant for both brands, even as the target moves from diverse children all over the world to our talented and ambitious banking customers here in the Northeast.

Mary Lhowe is a PBN contributing writer.