Montgomery County Leadership: Jordan Space, President of the Eastern Pennsylvania Region at S&T Bank

Jordan Space
S&T Bank Logo

Jordan Space, President of the Eastern Pennsylvania Region at S&T Bank, spoke with MONTCO Today via Zoom about growing up in Lancaster County as the son of a banker and how that led to his current work; his interest in sports, particularly golf, as he once eagled the 18th hole at the famed Oakmont Country Club; and his decision to attend the University of Pittsburgh during a time when the city was reinventing itself.

Space also discussed the people who saw promise in him early in his career; what opportunities lie ahead for S&T Bank in 2022; how the bank stacks up and what differentiates it in a competitive market in southeastern Pennsylvania; and a great piece of advice that will forever stick in his mind.

Where were you born, and where did you grow up, Jordan?

I was born the middle child of three children in Lancaster and raised in Manheim, Pennsylvania.

What did your parents do?

My mom was a schoolteacher growing up. My dad was a banker. When I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to do some banking in New York City. My dad had been in banking for 30 years at that point and decided to go out on his own and start his own bank in Central PA, so I moved home to help. We had a lot of success, and Integrity Bank ended up selling to S&T bank in 2015.

What do you remember about growing up in Manheim Township?

Manheim was a phenomenal community. The way people handled themselves and looked after one another. Lancaster County, in general, has a religious foundation. You can see that in the philanthropy of the community.

It was a great place to grow up, especially because of the community feel, which is an important aspect of my work today in the banking community. Relationships are still paramount in central Pennsylvania.

Did you play any sports growing up?

I was an avid soccer and baseball player growing up. Coincidentally, I played lacrosse and golf in high school. I am still an extremely avid golfer and play as much as possible.

What sport were you best at, Jordan?

I would say I was probably a better golfer than a lacrosse player. Lacrosse was still very new when I was playing in Manheim Township.

Do you have a favorite golf round or shot that you’ve made?

I do. I had an eagle at Oakmont on the 18th hole. Driver and four iron right into the hole. There’s a lunch area right beyond the 18th green at Oakmont, and when I was walking around looking for my second shot, a gentleman yelled, “you might want to check in the hole!” I received a standing ovation from the lunch crowd that day! It was a very cool experience.

I see a picture of Michael Jordan on the wall behind you.

I have an in-depth sports autograph collection that I’ve curated over the years. I have about 75 autographs from old Pittsburgh Steelers and some of the biggest superstars in sports. I just watched the Last Dance documentary on Michael Jordan, and it was compelling to see what a competitor he was. I am a highly competitive person, so when I look at his photo, I am reminded of that competitive spirit.

Did you work in high school?

My very first job was at Hummer’s Sports Turf in Lancaster. I was 16 years old, and we did sporting turf at football fields. We would get up at 4 AM and travel to different sports venues. We did a project at the University of Pennsylvania, Gettysburg, and several local high schools. That job taught me about work ethic, grit, and being accountable.

I did that for a while, then I was a prep and busboy at Outback Steakhouse. Those were my two high school jobs, and they taught me a lot, especially about saving money. I learned to start saving money early and compounding interest and dividends over time.

That’s a very nerdy answer. Would you classify yourself as a nerd?

I have an extremely outgoing component to my personality, leading some to believe I would not classify as nerdy. Still, I also really enjoy the weather, books, and reading about money and savings. There is definitely a nerd component there.

What kind of music were you listening to in high school?

I’m all over the place from a music perspective. If it’s upbeat and positive, I’m all over it. My wife pokes fun at me because I listen to so many different genres of music.

Did you have a favorite group?

I really didn’t. I loved all sorts of different music. I can’t pinpoint one group or artist that I love; it’s more of a diverse mix.

Why did you choose to go to Pitt?

I had a great time in high school. I was a pretty good student. My primary goal was to stay in the state from a cost perspective, so I looked at Pitt and Penn State as my two primary options.

At the time, a lot of people from my high school were going to Penn State, so I wanted to go somewhere different. The city of Pittsburgh energized me, and I had family in the area, so that was helpful in my decision. I stepped on the campus for five minutes and said, “I think I’ll go here!”

Looking back, was Pitt a good choice for you?

Yes, looking back, Pittsburgh became a second home to me. I received a great education there, and I met so many different people from different backgrounds. There was also such a diversity of options for things to do. You could go to a Steelers game; you could go to a museum; you could go out to dinner. Leaving Pittsburgh was hard, but going to New York City was a nice transition. Pittsburgh will always have a special place in my heart.

The city of Pittsburgh was re-inventing itself during that time.

Correct! When I graduated in 2006, it was just on the cusp of being a hub for Amazon, Uber, and other larger companies. It was trying to find a new identity post steel industry. For me, I had an opportunity to go do banking in New York, but a year or two after I graduated, more and more of my classmates were staying in the city.

Looking back over your career, who were the people who saw promise in you?

The first one is a gentleman named Mike Pinto from M&T Bank. At the time I was graduating from Pitt, Mike was the Vice-Chair at M&T, and we connected through my sister. At the time, Pitt wasn’t a targeted recruiting school for the bank, but Mike helped me get through the door and created my first opportunity at M&T. In retrospect, I wish I had thanked him a lot more. His opening the door at M&T provided a tremendous foundation, and probably one he has no idea how much he helped with.

My stepfather Jim Gibson, who also works in banking, has provided so much mentorship and knowledge to me over the years. We unite over customer service expectations, execution, responsiveness, and more despite differences in personalities. I learned a great deal from Jim.

Lastly, would be a guy named Bill Poole. Bill worked with us at S&T for a period of time. He was the ultimate encourager, coach, and mentor. He never asked for anything in return but always went above and beyond because it was the right thing to do.

What do you think they saw in you, Jordan?

Extreme desire to succeed, work ethic, and personality. I’m a big believer in creating your luck by working hard. I think each one of them saw a little bit of me in themselves. They saw that upside of potential.

Where does your work ethic come from, Jordan?

A portion of it is how I was raised, the success I saw, and how people got there. Another component is that I came from a divorced family, so I had a single mom who raised us, and I didn’t have any other option other than to work and be the man of the house. I had to mow the grass, cut the bushes, and paint when needed. You either fold or grind in that scenario.

When did you first realize that you had leadership ability and people would follow you?

I would say probably in high school. With the network of people that I had developed, and then I built on those relationships in college and developed more confidence in my abilities. Sports was a big part of that. I really think college was the big break for me. From a life perspective point, the people I was meeting and the relationships I was forging, that’s where it happened.

From a career standpoint, I would say that as I grew in my career at Integrity Bank, I was able to recruit people and build client relationships. It’s not an easy business, and it wasn’t always perfect, but it came naturally to me. I realized that I can do a lot when I’m honest with people and communicate authentically with them.

What opportunities are you focused on heading into 2022?

At the macro level, we are focused on growth. When you think about the industry and the stretching of terms, conditions, and pricing, we need to remain disciplined on our approach from a risk management standpoint and return on investment. We need to ensure profitability.

At the micro-level, getting pieces of that puzzle to be successful is incredibly important. Teambuilding is key. You need to get the right people in place. Along with that, looking at the geography and understanding where to focus our energy to extend. Today, we have twenty-one branches in the eastern Pennsylvania territory and $2 billion in assets. It’s a sizable region, and we have a good foundation, so if we focus on recruiting and expanding non-interest income avenues, we can have a very successful 2022 and beyond.

There’s a lot of banking competition in the Delaware Valley. How does S&T stack up?

It goes back to what we were talking about earlier: relationships. You know when you have a real relationship, and you can tell that in approach, negotiations, and conversations. For us as an organization, we are willing to walk from a deal if it doesn’t make sense for the bank or the borrower. In a highly competitive environment, sometimes more modest, profitable growth is better than rapid, unprofitable growth.

How would S&T Bank like to be known in this crowded market?

Number one, we do what we say we are going to do. Two, we are fair. Lastly, we can execute, and if we can’t, we’ll let you know.

Most banks say they are a relationship-focused organization. To me, the relationship component comes after you do what you say you’re going to do, build trust, and establish accountability and fairness. You need to pivot and adapt in this new world during and post-pandemic. Finding ways to connect with people on an individual level and building those relationships is going to be more challenging than it used to be.

What do you do with all your free time?

Chase kids around and work! I’m on the golf course if I have a moment outside of my career and role as a family man. I love so many things about golf: the comradery, the competitiveness, the outdoors, the exercise, and the social aspect. That’s the one place you can find me if I’m not working.

Do you have a favorite local course?

I really don’t. I play a lot of the Lancaster courses. If I had to pick two courses to play, I would say Philadelphia Cricket Club and Lancaster Country Club. Both are great courses.

Do you read much?

I do like to read. I have an app called “getAbstract” and it gives a ton of business book executive summaries and key content. It’s kind of like cliff notes back in the day! It’s been a tremendous asset. They have a written and audio component. I take notes on all the books I read so I can reference them later on. That goes back to your nerd question!

What gives you hope, Jordan?

I have to think about that one. I think part of it is a gut feeling on the future. I know there is hope in the world. Thinking about economics and America, we’ve always come back and recovered. I look at my family and my children and think about their futures and the things happening from an innovation standpoint. The future of our community and nation is extremely bright. 

Finally, Jordan, what’s the best piece of advice you ever received? 

My high school lacrosse coach Rich Lefever said, “care more about the person next to you than you do yourself, and the world will be a better place.” If you think about that from a leadership and followership standpoint, putting your team members and their interests ahead of your own helps you and your organization go so much farther. 

That one quote still sticks in my mind today, and I do everything I can to operate that way.


Publisher’s Note: Laura Manion contributed to this profile.

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