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Pedersen credits much of his success to the people he works with. “As an entrepreneur, it’s exhilarating to be working with a group of people that you can trust, that you enjoy working with and that have a burning desire to succeed,” he says.
Harris Simmons has long been involved in the banking industry. He caught the banking bug from his father, Roy Simmons, who once served at the helm of Zions and taught him how the industry can help individuals and businesses. Today, Simmons, who has been leading the bancorporation since 1990, hopes to continue that legacy of building community. “We really believe in helping build small businesses and building them into strong medium-sized, middle-market businesses. We’re also doing a lot with family-owned businesses right now. And we’re one of the leading SBA lenders.”
Simmons has guided the organization through many economic ups and downs, but says the financial crisis of 2008 was by far his biggest challenge. “A lot of the rules of the game have been changed, but the industry now is much healthier,” he says. “You learn from adversity and make sure you don’t repeat mistakes. It was the kind of experience nobody wants to go through, but it was a priceless education for a lot of people in our organization and beyond.”
Under Simmons’ leadership, Zions has been a tech pioneer in the banking industry. “We’ve been a leader in some crucial areas of commerce over the internet,” he says. “We’ve been a leader in the creation of remote deposit capture. The idea that you can deposit a check without going to the bank—it was created here. We’ve seen that change in the way we do business and the way the industry does business. It’s been gratifying.”
Today, Zions Bancorporation is one of the largest bank holding companies in the Western United States, operating eight subsidiary banks in 10 Western states in addition to a leasing company, wealth management business and trust company. What makes the organization truly unique, Simmons says, is its focus on connecting with the community. “We operate differently than most large regional banks of our size. We try to keep the leadership of the bank as close to our customers as we possibly can. That really distinguishes us from virtually any other larger bank operating in multiple markets today.”