Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Lending Time: Webster Bank's Mentoring Program Is an Investment in Its Community

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Lending Time: Webster Bank's Mentoring Program Is an Investment in Its Community

Article excerpt

"WE GIVE OF OURSELVES IN THE COMMUNITIES WE serve," is one of six core values that make up the "Webster Way" at $21 billion-assets Webster Bank, Waterbury, Conn. One way Webster is fulfilling that value is through its 12-year-old mentoring program, which boasts over 100 employee volunteers, 83 of whom have mentored for at least a year.

"Our bankers are interested in it, they get to spend time with young people, and they make a difference in one another's lives along the way," says James Smith, chairman and CEO of Webster. "This is in our DNA. It is part of who we are."

The program asks volunteers to commit to at least a year of one-hour, once-a-week mentoring sessions. The program is school-based, so mentoring occurs during the workday, and volunteers are required to get permission from their superiors to participate. Management is usually more than happy to accommodate. "Our managers and supervisors understand that those involved in the mentoring program are going to need the time to be with their mentees," says Smith. "We need to be able to give Webster bankers the time they need to be a meaningful part of their communities."

In fact, many employees find that their productivity increases on their mentoring days. "The dates that I mentor are some of my most productive afternoons. I feel good, and I find I'm in a better state of mind," says Jay Brennan, vice-president, market sales specialist and head of the mentoring program.

Once mentors are cleared for participation, the bank searches through a list of schools provided by the Governor's Prevention Partnership, a nonprofit designed to support mentoring programs in Connecticut. …

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