BizTimes Bubbler Executive of the Week: Chris Goller

Chris Goller, regional president for Wisconsin, PNC Financial Services Group Inc.
Address: 411 E. Wisconsin Ave., Suite 1400, Milwaukee
Website: www.pnc.com
Industry: Financial services
Employees: 54,000 nationwide
Family: Fourth generation Milwaukeean, wife and two daughters

What was the smartest thing PNC Bank did in the past year?
“PNC continues to do its part to help drive and sustain economic activity and to support initiatives that strengthen and revitalize the communities we serve. Since we entered this market, we have built 12 new branches, continue lending to businesses of all sizes and strongly support arts and education programs in the city.   

“We’re particularly proud to have opened our new branch at 16th and National, in a predominately Hispanic neighborhood that has seen its share of economic challenges. We’ve continued to work with a number of local businesses to help them succeed. We recognize that as our local businesses prosper, so do our communities, which is exactly why are so involved in the revitalization of Milwaukee’s neighborhoods.”   

Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any other significant capital investments in your bank in the next year?
“The new and reconfigured branches represent a considerable investment of time and effort. We will continue to grow our business by investing in technology to ensure the ease and security of banking for our customers. For example, we recently announced that PNC customers can now use Apple Pay for retail transactions.”

What will be PNC Bank’s main challenges in the next year?
“The banking industry faces continued challenges, from a tepid economic recovery and low interest rates to new regulations and a highly competitive landscape. Our focus on our customers and communities is how we will differentiate PNC and continue to add value and growth in this environment. We’ll do this by continuing to deliver innovative technology and solutions that offer a superior experience, convenience and security.”

How does PNC give back to the community?
“Our teams live and work in the communities we serve, which enables us to have a close connection with our community, our clients and local philanthropic projects. We are especially passionate about investing our time and efforts in early education and the arts.  

“From a community development/investment perspective, we also give back. For example, PNC is the only bank in the country to have been awarded New Markets Tax Credit allocation in each of the last four rounds and is an active investor in the tax credits created. NMTCs are awarded by the federal government as an incentive for private investors like PNC to invest in low-income communities needing revitalization. Two of the most impactful projects we have recently invested in locally are the $20 million construction of the new St. Ann’s Center of Intergenerational Care Bucyrus Campus and the $21 million construction of the new Sojourner Family Justice Center. We also invested in a $20 million loan pool in 2014 with the Milwaukee Economic Development Corporation to bring the NMTC resource to smaller projects and businesses here.

“PNC has been fortunate to be able to collaborate with various local innovative community development-focused stakeholders in these projects including: IFF, Forward Community Investments, First-Ring Industrial Redevelopment Enterprise and others to create the best community outcome. It’s the type of win-win partnership and investment of which PNC is proud.”

Why are you and PNC Bank so committed to backing early education and the arts in particular? How have you and the bank specifically contributed to each of these focus areas?
“We recognize that kindergarten readiness is the foundation of our children’s future success, and ultimately, the success of our local economy. Preparing our young children for their first day of school not only helps them learn and succeed as they progress in school; it impacts all of us as they grow up to be our leaders, innovators and employers.   

“Through Grow Up Great, our signature philanthropic cause that began in 2004, PNC has created a $350 million, multi-year initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life. PNC employees get up to 40 hours of paid time off per year to volunteer with Grow Up Great locally. Separately, the PNC Foundation also matches employee giving to nonprofits. Locally, we work with more than 10 organizations, including the United Community Center, the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum and First Stage Children’s Theater. The arts are also a crucial economic component in Milwaukee, with the ability to create full-time jobs and generate revenue for local businesses, which in turn pay local and state taxes. Since 2011, we have provided financial and volunteer support for a variety of organizations and initiatives including the United Way of Greater Milwaukee, United Performing Arts Fund, Milwaukee Art Museum, LISC, Milwaukee Jewish Federation, MMAC, Greater Milwaukee Committee, COA, Meta House, Discovery World, Journey House and many other fantastic nonprofit organizations in our community.”

What has kept you here in the greater Milwaukee area?
“Milwaukee is home for me and my family. Four generations of Gollers grew up here. I’m a Marquette alumnus and have spent my professional life here, so I have firsthand experience of the strong feeling of ‘community’ that is part of Milwaukee’s vibe.  

“PNC is a Main Street bank and so this feeling of community and support aligns with my strategic goals and how we do business at PNC. As a corporate leader, I’m fortunate to be able to contribute and support that growth.”

Do you have a business mantra?
“People come first. Results will follow.”

From a business standpoint, who do you look up to?
“Two great leaders that I respect are Winston Churchill and Warren Buffett. While Winston Churchill is not always associated with being a business leader, his determination to see success even in the face of tremendous challenges is a key attribute every great business leader needs. Warren Buffett has been the world’s greatest long-term investor, with an ability to make decisions with a long-term focus as well as a commitment to philanthropy.”

What was the best advice you ever received?
“Nothing happens without a plan. The plan will always change, but the process of planning is critical to its success.”

What do you like to do in your free time?
“I enjoy spending quality time with family. I have a wonderful wife, Amy, and two great daughters, Grace and Lily. I’m a Packers, Brewers and UWM Panthers fan so we are there year round. We have season tickets to the First Stage Children’s Theater and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and we love to take the kids.”

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