At its Annual Membership Meeting in November, the PA Chamber elected Manuel Mar of Santander Bank as its new chairman. As Senior Relationship Manager at Santander Bank, Manny brings significant experience in the financial sector, an emphasis on collaboration and community, and a commitment to seizing this transformative time in our organization’s and Pennsylvania’s history. We’re proud to highlight Manny’s background, his historic status as the PA Chamber’s first Hispanic American Chairman, and his plans for the future in the following Q&A:
Being the PA Chamber Board Chair isn’t your only new role. You also recently became Senior Relationship Manager at Santander Bank. How does your experience in this position equip you for your role leading the Chamber?
I’m fortunate to lead a team of specialists focused on leveraging Santander Commercial Banking’s unique capabilities to deliver tailored solutions and support for corporate clients and prospective clients across the Mid-Atlantic region that align with their strategic priorities and goals. This translates to my role to leading the Chamber because I am assessing the needs of the business community, engaging the appropriate business leaders, encouraging innovative ideas, and tapping into our strengths and networks to inspire meaningful change for our constituents.
You are the first Hispanic American to chair the PA Chamber’s Board of Directors. What does that mean to you both personally and professionally, and what do you believe it means for the organization’s progress?
I am extremely honored to serve as the Chamber’s first Hispanic American Board Chairperson. As a Mexican American immigrant, this country gave my family an opportunity for a brighter future. Now, many years later, I have been given a similar opportunity to lead a transformative movement to make Pennsylvania the most competitive state in the nation and a great place to live, work, and raise our kids in. Diversity, equity and inclusion is a top priority for me, and the Chamber’s progress in critical areas of DE&I align with my personal goals and values. Similarly, I am proud to work for Santander, where we are committed to uniting and supporting colleagues from every background to drive a diverse, inclusive, and equitable organization that fosters an environment of belonging and collaboration where all voices are respected, and diverse thinking is supported and valued.
As the new PA Chamber Board chairman, you’ve expressed that a primary focus will be Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Can you expand upon the importance of DE&I in the workplace and why leaders should prioritize it?
DE&I in the workplace is critically important. When we appreciate and value what makes people different and respect their background, perspectives, and experiences, we can form powerful connections, with both our colleagues and clients. Furthermore, leaders should prioritize DE&I because empirical evidence has shown that organizations with DE&I embedded into their culture have a positive impact on business performance and employee engagement, outperforming those organizations where DE&I is not seen as a business imperative. At Santander, each leader plays an integral role in our culture, so we are committed to equipping them with the tools and resources they need to lead diverse and high-performing teams while fostering an inclusive and equitable work culture.
A recent study just ranked Pennsylvania’s Latino population among the Top 10 highest among states. What does that say about Hispanic Americans’ significant economic contributions to our economy and how can business leaders help spur further entrepreneurship among this growing segment of the population?
The economic engine of Pennsylvania’s Hispanic population ranks among the top 10 highest of any state. Given their position and voice in Pennsylvania’s economy, business leaders should align their resources to capitalize on the growing demand for goods and services. At Santander, we know that entrepreneurs create jobs while strengthening our communities, and we are committed to fostering economic growth and inclusivity by providing support and access to capital for entrepreneurs throughout our footprint and beyond.
You’re heavily involved in your community, which helps shape your focus as a leader. Where do you focus your efforts, and what do you impress upon those who work for Santander about the importance of community involvement?
I focus my efforts on the unique needs of the local community, my interest in encouraging innovative ideas to address the gaps, and tapping into my strengths and networks to deliver positive outcomes. I express the critical importance of aligning our resources at Santander to workforce development, community development and basic needs, not only because it’s important for our culture and morale, but more importantly because it’s the right thing to do. At Santander, we’re committed to helping our communities prosper, succeed, and grow. Recently, Santander US unveiled its latest Community Plan, a three-year commitment of $4.6 billion in community reinvestment and $9 billion in sustainable finance, which will provide broad commitments for community development for affordable housing, small business, and supplier diversity, as well as $100 million in charitable giving and 100,000 employee volunteer hours.