Santa Clara University


Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative (NPI)

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 Alex Nauman

Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014

About a month ago, at our second class meeting for NPI 3.1, we had the opportunity to hear from the source of the money funding our work in the community, none other than Jeff Rademann, the current President of the Santa Clara Valley Region of Wells Fargo.  Wells Fargo, under Jeff’s leadership, is funding a competition to improve small businesses in the Washington neighborhood of San Jose through a number of grants. This money will be allocated in the most efficient way through a joint effort between Santa Clara University students and students from the Center for Employment Training.

The purpose of Jeff’s visit was to help us SCU students understand how the project came to be and how the process would work, in generalities. We discussed where the businesses would be coming from, how the timeline would look, and what judging would be like. All good stuff, of course, but we moved through that rather quickly. But Jeff didn’t leave. Instead, he stayed to share his insights on the project and about those who we would be serving, his personal beliefs on helping the community, and how he has approached his career in the competitive field of banking.  I couldn’t stop scribbling down notes around the margins of my paper, so I’d like to share a few of my favorites.

When approaching the businesses, he urged us to make an active effort to listen. These small businesses are the pride and joy of their owners, and they love to talk about them. So let them, because the more they talk, the more that can be learned about them and where they want to go. From there, we can apply our practical knowledge, but not before understanding their business and passion. He encouraged us to learn about the industry they are in, and do research to help them better their business. The process brings together time, knowledge, and resources, which can lead to great results. 

In his career, Jeff has learned the value of the community, and urged us to do the same as we begin our own careers. This includes getting to know elected officials and other community members.  His reason?  You won’t win on price every time as a business. Being active in the community is not only good for the population being served, and the right thing to do, but it also directly benefits the company. Be it in company image or doors opening as a result of their contributions, benefits flow both ways, and can be summed up in his quote, “If others win, we'll win.”  

Jeff also spoke to us about interviewing and offered to personally coach us on techniques and tips he has learned and looks for in candidates he interviews. Dressed casually in Friday wear, he treated us as equals with knowledge that he had to share, and I was blown away by how relatable and real he was with us.  I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being in conversation with Jeff, and look forward to following through with his offer for interview skills training!

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