Q & A with Robin Roberts
President of Pikes Peak National Bank
Robin Roberts, president of Pikes Peak National Bank, has been in the banking industry for the majority of her career. She served two enlistment terms in the Army, then went on to become president of Pikes Peak National Bank at age 33. Roberts is the chair of the 2013 and 2014 Small Business Week Committee. She received an Athena award nominee in 2013, and was nominated for the 2013 Business Citizen of the Year Award. She also hosts a Saturday afternoon radio show on KRD to provide exposure for businesses in the region, and let business owners know about events and issues that may affect them.
Q: What products and/or services does PPNB offer?
A: PPNB is a family-owned bank with approximately 40 employees. We are primarily a business bank, but have many consumer banking customers as well, some who have been with us since 1957 when we opened. We offer general banking products like checking and savings accounts. In February we will add cash management services to our online banking platform that will allow business owners to initiate wire transfers, payroll transactions and to more actively manage their accounts
Q: What are your plans for growth?
A: Our target is small businesses with revenues under $2 million. We're really looking at a fairly underserved portion of the market, the mom-and-pop businesses with under 10 employees, those businesses that really need to have a relationship with their bank. We work really well with that demographic and have been able to help several startups in 2013, which I'm super proud of. Our goal is to increase that in 2014. It's a segment of the market that's harder for a larger bank to serve, and it's easier for us because we have a smaller footprint.
Q: Are there any ways in which PPNB uniquely serves the community?
A: Small businesses don't always need loans. They need education and connections to resources within the community. With my lenders and account openers, we find how we can best serve our small business owners and connect them with others in the community so they can be successful. Even if they don't bank with us, more successful small businesses in our community are better for the economy all around.
Q: What leadership experience did you gain while in the military?
A: The military taught me how to work with a diverse group of people, because I met people from so many different places and other countries as well. The military teaches what real leadership is, in my opinion. You don't get things done by doing them on your own. In the military, everything is done as a team. You have to get the right people around you and develop those people around you to be the best, whatever it is that they are, so that when you're going toward a common purpose, you need every single one of those people to be successful.
Q: What is your personal formula for success?
A: I have a tremendous work ethic. Also, my grandfather, a very important person and mentor to me, taught me from the time I was a little girl, that you can do whatever you want. That seems very simple but a lot of children don't hear that, and that's sad. He taught me to dream and to work toward that dream. So, working hard and knowing I could do it; those two things have guided me.
Q: Where do we as a community need to focus in terms of the future?
A: I would really like to see our community work together more often, more collaboratively. That doesn't happen as often as it should. The jobs issue is a huge challenge right now. We've lost a lot of companies and we're not regaining companies moving to the region in the way that we would like. We need to look comparatively at other cities that are kind of our size, and we need to diversify since a good part of our economy is driven by the military. I see the military as opportunity because veterans coming out there want to do entrepreneurial things and they have a specialized skill set that you can't learn in school. So, we need to look at that unique aspect of our business culture and our culture as a community and ask, "How can we leverage this?"
Q: What advice can you offer to someone looking to start and entrepreneurial venture?
A: I would recommend that new business owners or entrepreneurs seek out the help of those who have been there before. We have several resources in Colorado Springs that are beneficial in that regard. For new business owners, the Small Business Development Center is a great resource, as is SCORE and the Business Alliance. For entrepreneurs, Start Up Colorado Springs, Peak Venture Group and the Colorado Springs Technology Incubator are great organizations filled with mentors and other entrepreneurs who have already made mistakes, experienced success, and are very supportive. Also, the co-working spaces like Epicentral are good places to meet like-minded business people. All of the above resources can assist new business owners or entrepreneurs with help on their business plans, financial projections, pitches to investors, and provide connections that can be invaluable to their success.
Edited for space and clarity