Lawyer Jay Goldstein had never worked at a bank let alone run one before becoming CEO of Valley Green Bank in 2005. But in less than 10 years, he created perhaps the most profitable bank in the Philadelphia region before it was sold to Univest Corp. He then founded and became chairman and CEO of Spring Garden Lending, which has since provided $140 million in bridge financing and permanent loans to real estate developers and recently opened operations in Baltimore.
What is the most pressing issue facing our region?
Chronic poverty, poorest city of top 10 largest cities in the U.S., unequal public education leads to continued cycle of poverty.
What factors most helped you get ahead in your career and contributed to your success?
Loving, supportive, multigenerational family; role models and mentors who took an interest in my career; leadership positions at an early age; legal background provides analytical skills to think critically and strategically.
Describe the vision you have for your organization:
We are private lenders who lend to real estate developers and investors who are solid business people committed to their businesses and the neighborhoods where they invest. Spring Garden Lending is equally committed to revitalizing emerging neighborhoods to continue to make our city and region vibrant. Internally I hope to provide a work culture that encourages my staff to feel empowered to use their individual skills and talents to perform at a high level and feel positive about the work they do. An important part of this philosophy is that within a few years of employment all employees are offered an ownership interest in Spring Garden Lending.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken? Did it work? What did you learn from it?
I left a lucrative law practice midcareer with two young children to start a community bank in 2005 right before the financial crisis. I grew the bank to over $425 million in assets, managed 60-plus employees, and opened three branches and two commercial loan centers. By 2013, Valley Green Bank was named one of the top 10 highest performing community banks in the country. In 2015, it was acquired by Univest Bank and Trust Co. [I learned] hard work, a clear vision, and hiring the right people is everything.
What one word best describes you?
Share one thing about yourself people would be surprised to learn:
I passed the test to join the Foreign Service.
Who is a CEO you admire, and why?
Bill Gates – the entrepreneur and the philanthropist.
What does leadership and being a leader mean to you?
Leadership means having a compelling, creative vision one is willing to share; the ability to motivate and stimulate people to action through setting high standards; being supportive and recognizing skills, talents and needs of others; a good listener; being a risk taker; having a good sense of humor and creating a positive work place, culture and environment.