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Parting Thoughts: Joe Yacyshyn

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Photo by Ron Dubick

Joe Yacyshyn joined Wilmington Trust in 1974 as a management trainee, working as assistant branch manager at the New Castle office and then branch manager in Delaware City. He transferred to the Commercial Loan department in 1990 and later joined the National Division as a calling officer and then the Cash Management Service Group.

But he found his calling in late 2004, becoming vice president and regional manager of the bank’s Charitable Contributions and Community Affairs, coordinating and reviewing all requests for philanthropic support and volunteer activities throughout the Delaware region. M&T/Wilmington Trust keeps him busy; the combined organization supports more than 350 charitable organizations in Delaware.

“I chair a committee of 13 people from up and down the state and what they tell me we need to be doing in Bridgeville is very different than what we need to be doing in Elsmere,” Yacyshyn told DBT during a recent interview. “It goes back to the premise that this is our home, this is where we live. We have 29 staff members who serve as Principal for a Day. They are coming back with an ‘Oh my God!’ moment. ‘You’ll never guess what I saw’, and I said, ‘Good. That’s why we sent you out there.’ We want to be a part of it.”

Yacyshyn easily recalls a time when the state had many large employers with local philanthropy programs. 

“There’s been a thinning, he said. “It’s a perfect storm, more demand, less supply. We’re looking for good programs and we’re measuring outcomes and we want to serve the underserved. M&T gives everyone in our organization 40 hours of volunteer time a year. We don’t have a preference for what you do. But we do want you to do something because we think when our communities succeed, we succeed as a company.”

The list of boards he’s served on is long; the list of organizations he’s “assisted” is even longer.

“We salute Joe’s outstanding work for M&T and his legacy of service to the community,” said Nick Lambrow, M&T Bank’s Delaware Market President. “Joe exemplifies M&T’s role as a community-focused bank and our commitment to making Delaware a great place to live, work and invest.”

Joe will be retiring in October but took a few minutes to reflect on lessons learned during his 45-year career. 

At what point in your life did you realize you had the power to do something meaningful?
Lying in a hospital bed after cardiac surgery, I realized that I had the resources to improve the lives of many … not just a few.

How do you want to be remembered?
As someone who under-promised but over-delivered and always tried to do the right thing.

What were your strengths as a leader?
The ability to evaluate a large amount of data … and reach/implement a compassionate decision.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Learn to listen and always evaluate multiple options.

What lessons did you learn from your biggest success and your biggest failure?
Align yourself with good people, outline the objective, give them the tools they need, and stay out of their hair.

When you hear the word “successful,” who (or what) do you think of?
Individuals who continually strive to the right thing, even though many times it is unpopular. People who always complete the task.

What’s your favorite quote?
“Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.” And “Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?
Always try to exceed people’s expectations and no matter how bad the news, always tell the truth.

What was the “pebble in your shoe” (the everyday distraction that took you off course)?
People complaining.

What’s the question you wish more people would ask themselves?
How can I make our community a better place for everyone? People need ourhelp. Use your talents to help them.

What was the key to your success?
Staying focused on the objective. Never quitting. Always surround yourself with people smarter than yourself.

When you feel overwhelmed, get distracted, or lose your focus, what do you do?
Walk away from the task and return to it shortly thereafter. But get it done on time.

What’s inspiring you right now?
New opportunities after I retire.

What’s the biggest challenge facing Delaware businesses?
Attracting and keeping talented individuals who are looking for a career.

What’s next for you?
New opportunities using my existing skills. Looking for organizations that might benefit from my abilities. 

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