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Bankers Who ROCK - Or, when a CFO doesn’t act like a CFO

by Barb Zipperian, CFO

I guess I’ve waited for this moment my whole life.  This weekend I’ll be singing backup in a band . . . not many bank CFOs can say that.

When I was a little girl growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, I wanted to be famous.  I loved music and I loved performing. Cher was my idol. Through the years I dabbled in piano, guitar, flute and even played oboe in the junior high band, took voice lessons and performed in school theatre productions.

I made my way from Cincinnati to Ball State University in Indiana, majoring in Theatre, but the social aspects of sorority combined with the reality of planning a future with the man who became my husband drew me down a different -- more practical -- path. 

That’s how my dreams of life in the spotlight did an about face and I became an accountant, got my CPA license and began my career in banking. Performing was relegated to the church choir and occasional skits, acceptable hobbies for a banker.

Then, a couple of decades later, I made my way to Nashville to start Avenue Bank.  Wow, now I’m a banker in Music City USA!  I’m in heaven, enjoying all the music and awards shows and even having celebrities as clients!

Fast forward to February 2009.  Reality check: I am a bank CFO during a national  economic crisis, and the banking industry is being shaken to its core. So maybe it’s not exactly logical that, at this point, Avenue Bank decided to start a band!!!

When we learned that the Arts and Business Council of Middle Tennessee was having a Corporate Band Challenge, we decided to jump right in. Our bank is not only lucky enough to have a talented group of experienced, energetic, passionate and just plain fun-to-be-around bankers but we’ve also got several extremely talented musicians among them.

I’m out of my league when it comes to music in this city and also at this bank, because our Avenue bankers are seriously talented.  (I guess I’m ok with using my CFO position to get me a spot in the band as a back-up singer.)   Our band quickly came together, and we began practices a few weeks before the competition at one of our branch locations.

We’ve got CEO Ron Samuels on guitar, SVP and head of our Music & Entertainment Banking group, Ron Cox, on the banjo, Chief Deposit Officer Tim Bewley on drums, Kevin Mills – Bank Security Director on lead vocals, Concierge Banker (and new mom!) Heather Redmond also on lead vocals, and Private Banking Assistant Holli Ewing on bass guitar.  We also enlisted Holli’s sisters Amy and Kelly and friend Layton to fill in the gaps for us. 

Our first performance was at the Tin Roof on Demonbreun for the preliminary contest round.  The entire bank came out to support us that night and we gave it our banker best and had a blast! 

We were thrilled to make it to the FINAL round of the Band Challenge which is Sunday March 15, 2009 – 6 p.m. at Massey Performing Arts Center, Belmont University.  And that’s how a CFO gets to say: “I’m in a band in Nashville, Tennessee!!!”

Living out my fantasy may only last a brief time, but the memories will be forever.

The tagline of Avenue Bank is “the difference is REAL”.  But I’m proposing a revision to that tag line:

At Avenue Bank, the difference is real . . . and WE ROCK!!!! 

Editors Note: The Hummingbirds took second place in the inaugural Music City Corporate Band Challenge on Sunday, March 15th.  

Posted by mindreactor on 03/12 at 07:12 AM


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