Established And Emerging Leaders of Hampton Roads

Andy Hodge 

Atlantic Union Bank Regional President, Coastal Virginia

What drew you to Atlantic Union Bank at this stage in your career?  

After spending 15+ years with two large national banks, BB&T and PNC, I was drawn to a smaller, regional bank where I could have more impact on the business.  Atlantic Union Bank’s executive leadership team is second to none – smart, diverse and dynamic, as opposed to the typical executive leadership teams you see in most banks.  The story resonates – we are building a Virginia Bank that harkens back to a time when the Commonwealth had numerous dominant banks.  My team and region contribute directly to the Bank’s performance and our presence is felt.  At the same time, we are able to make decisions on our client’s behalf and truly help them.  That’s something you don’t get at a big bank. 

What ‘points of difference’ set you apart in the competitive banking and lending marketplace?  

We are the perfect combination of size and services.  We are big enough to have all the bells and whistles that the larger institutions have, but we’re small enough that we still value local decision making.  I literally make more impactful decisions in a month than I ever did in any year when I worked at the larger institutions.  The organization trusts me to make the right decision. 

You and Mike Corso both have young families, how do you manage a comfortable balance between professional time and family time?  

You cannot allow your professional career to dominate your life.  My family is more important to me than anything else so I commit to being there.  You have to have that mindset.  You have to be willing to say no.  My wife and I are a little older than a typical couple who have small children.  We are wiser and understand that time goes by quickly.  We both want to slow things down and enjoy these moments. 

What are the struggles there and what advice would you give to others?  

Once again, it’s about your mindset.  If you allow work or other influences to dominate your life, they will.  If you want to be there with your family, you just need to do so.  It helps that I have a wonderful wife, who I adore.  There is nobody else I would rather spend time with. 

You are both involved in giving back to our community, with what philanthropies and organizations are you associated and what compelled you to spend your time and leadership there?  

Giving back and giving in the community is part of the American dream.  We are one large community and I believe everyone should choose where they want to help and contribute to the community.  It’s about helping others in need and investing in organizations that will improve our community. 

(Editor’s note) Many true leaders are humble.  We had to really work to get Andy to speak of his accomplishments.  As you will see, he contributes his time to many significant boards.  

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

Virginia Beach Museum of Contemporary Art (past Chair)

The Neptune Festival

Tidewater Community College Foundation

EVMS Foundation

Lake Taylor Hospital Foundation

HR Workforce Foundation

What advice would you give to others beginning their professional lives in     Hampton Roads?  

Who you work for and with is more important than the brand.  Great leaders or managers make all the difference in the development of professionals starting out.  And vice versa, poor leaders or managers can set younger folks back.  Make sure your value system (know what that is) matches who you work for and that will help lay a foundation that allows someone to flourish.  Hampton Roads is a great region, with incredible natural surroundings and a thriving community.  Embrace all that it has to offer. 

What characteristics drew you to one another, one as a mentor, one as a mentee? 

Mike is smart, thoughtful and hungry.  I am lucky that I work for an organization that allows me to do some things outside of the box.  There are not enough talented bankers in the region and so we need to expand the talent pool.  Mike has many of the qualities that would make a strong banker – financial background, an understanding of commercial lending and project finance and the ability to converse with high level decision makers with confidence.  It was natural that we asked him to be a part of our growing and hungry team.  Hungry is the key differentiator for me – there are plenty of smart, analytical and capable folks.  Given our place in the market and the opportunity in front of us, I value drive, hunger and grit.  Those are traits that you can’t teach.  Mike has them. 

Mike Corso 

Atlantic Union Bank, Vice President Commercial Real Estate

What drew you to Atlantic Union Bank at this stage in your career?

What’s exciting to me is that I was publicly educated at VMI right here in Virginia and I did my masters at Radford.  For me, I am a Virginia guy and that is something that is truly important to me.  There has not been a centralized Virginia bank in over two decades, but Atlantic Union Bank has done that.  Their deep commitment to Virginia and out-of-the-box, creative thinking made me know that they would deeply understand the needs of the commercial borrower.  

What ‘points of difference’ set you apart in the competitive banking and lending marketplace?

Atlantic Union is headquartered in Richmond so whenever I speak with clients the decisions are made both here locally and in Richmond. If I need to meet with a client I can do that easily and I am able to advocate for clients face-to-face.  At Atlantic Union, we are doing things the right way and our vision is really strong.  I didn’t want to just join any bank, but I believe in what Atlantic Union is doing.

As an experienced borrower representing other borrowers (I have done over 5 million dollars in acquisition for my own account) I understand what it means to be compliant with loan covenants.  When I came into the Atlantic Union bank side, I always consider what I can do that is best for the bank and their ROI, and for their shareholders to help grow the bank, but I am always going to be thinking about and considering the borrower.  When I was on the borrower side it wasn’t only about rate because that is not just the most important thing.  Relationships are what is more important than just working off of someone else’s rate sheet.  It is an added value to bring to the table. 

What characteristics drew you to one another, one as a mentor, one as a mentee?

I first met Andy in 2013 when I was with PHR Gold Key and we were looking at financing for the Hilton.  Hampton Roads is so close to my heart and when I see strong talent here that is something I am attracted to.  I always look out for Hampton Roads and thought we really need to keep a strong leader like Andy Hodge in Virginia.  I continued to watch what he was doing from afar and Andy was really making a difference and I realized his talent is special and he knows how to make an impact on the market share.  He has emotional intelligence, is engaged in the community and was involved in important things like the Neptune court.  There are some people from Hampton Roads that wait years to be a part of organizations like that! 

You and Andy Hodge both have young families, how do you manage a comfortable balance between professional time and family time?  What are the struggles there and what advice would you give to others?

I actually got some great, quality time with my daughter while I was in my career transition.  My son was in school so I had plenty of time to spend with her and those are times I don’t think I will ever forget.  I was also very prayerful during those six months because, as you know, times like that can be tough since I wanted to be smart about my next move.  You really have to make that family time.  There are times where my phone was blowing up, but in this day and age there is no clocking out anymore so you have to balance your time with your family.  But when I am with my kids, the phone calls can wait.  I truly believe in taking that valuable time and every day we spend 15 minutes to read a daily devotional with my kids.  When we read, this opens up opportunities for conversation.  You can’t wait to take a vacation; it is about the day to day with your family.  

You are both involved in giving back to our community, what philanthropies and organizations are you associated with and what compelled you to spend your time and leadership there?

For me, I was the first one of my family to graduate high school.  I attribute that success to my grandmother, who always told me I was going to do something special.  She used to call me her “special angel” and that was important to me.  Education was my true pathway out of the cycle that I one thousand percent would have been in based on history.  I have such a special place in my heart for Junior Achievement.  Back in 2006 I joined Junior Achievement as a volunteer, but now I am Chairman of the Board in Hampton Roads.  I really liked the program and wanted to continue to be a part of it.  The biggest values are the soft skills, the mentorship program, and teaching young kids practical living advice to make sure those actions do not become a roadblock in their future success.  

Another great honor of mine is the fact that I was also just appointed to the General Advisory Council for Career and Technical Education in the city of Virginia Beach.  I was also just asked to join the board for the Together We Can Foundation that helps foster kids that are low-income and not on the right path in life.  It truly helps them prepare resumes, talk about how to interview, how to present yourself when you are looking for a job, etc. for those kids who are off the beaten path.  All of these are great honors, but I have considered carefully, especially since I have a young family and other responsibilities. But for these organizations, I am all in and dedicated entirely.            

If you had a magic wand and could fix something or add something to our community what would it be?

For me, I would love more bike lanes in our community.  So, where I live we are less than a mile from the elementary school and I would love for my son to be able to bike to school, but some of the roads are scary.  We have so much to offer right here in Virginia Beach and we can build extra bike lanes off the street.  Biking is a great family activity and we would love to be able to do it more together with extra bike lanes.  

I also believe we should have a Regional Council who would oversee big picture projects for our entire area rather than just having City Councils.  It would be a great project to begin in our area that would truly accomplish many things for our region and bring everyone together.  We put on this façade that we are working together, but a Regional Council would actually help accomplish that.    

What advice would you give to others beginning their professional lives in Hampton Roads?

My advice for those starting their professional life here is to find a mentor and reach out to multiple mentors.  Some of mine include, Bob Howard (Gold Key PHR), Andy Hodge, Greg Casey (ECPI) and Greg Watts (Morgan Stanley).  I have many different mentors here in this community and I always want to seek out someone who I believe is doing something right and an individual who I want to look up to.  This was something that has been a major impact in my life.  It is important to humble yourself and reach out to mentors, even at any age.  There is no age limit to having a mentor and you can always benefit from having one.  I really think it is important to always give back at any level of success.  You don’t have to be wealthy to give back, but you can give back in ways as simple as giving of your time.  If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem, so if you are going to complain, get in there and give back to the community.