Takin’ It To The Bank
Meet David Millman. On the surface, Millman is your average Baltimorean. A 1973 graduate of Milford Mill Academy, he married his junior high sweetheart, Holly — both graduates of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
But today, Millman, 58, is anything but typical. He’s the Maryland and Baltimore market president for Bank of America, overseeing company leaders across the state to help the bank deliver a wide range of global financial services to more individuals and businesses locally, as well as deepen relationships with existing customers.
He also oversees corporate social responsibility activities, including philanthropic giving, community
development lending and investing, environmental initiatives, diversity efforts, arts and culture projects and employee volunteerism.
In addition, Millman is the market executive for Business Banking for Greater Maryland. Business Banking provides strategic, integrated financial advice and solutions to small and midsized businesses with $5 million to $50 million in annual revenues.
The Baltimore Jewish Times caught up with Millman late last month.
JT: You have been with Bank of America since 1981. Was becoming Maryland and Baltimore market president a logical next step?
Millman: It is a logical next step, but it was also a choice. At Bank of America, to be in a president role also incorporates A-line management. … I run our business banking team; I lead that team for Maryland, and the business banking piece is something I have been involved in almost my entire career.
As far as market president: You have to be interested in what … goes on in the community you live in. It was a logical step for me because I had interest in … what was going on around me and trying to make an impact. When I was presented with the opportunity, I jumped at it.
How’s it going?
It’s been great. I am working hard. It is a job that requires a lot of energy and a lot of hours, but I love it.
You probably meet many amazing people in your role. Who’s the coolest one so far?
Of all the great people that I have met — people who run nonprofits in the community or are business owners — I think I would choose someone who is actually internal to Bank of America. His name is Bill Couper, and he was my predecessor. He was a pure president. … The thing that made Bill such a tremendous role model was his demeanor and the way he dealt — and deals currently — with people. It is the kindness he uses in everyday life. I have never seen Bill say an ill word about anyone; I’ve never seen him lose his temper. His DNA is just incredible.
You oversee a tremendous amount of funds, and it’s a big responsibility. What keeps you up at night?
Making sure we are doing our absolute best. … We certainly have a corporate agenda and a responsibility to all the communities we are in. … You want to make sure the decisions you make are impactful. Because those decisions are made on a daily basis, and there are quite a few of them, we want to make sure we are doing … the right thing for the community. It’s that you want to do not just what the bank wants you to do, but what the community wants you to do.
Your job description has a strong social aspect: philanthropic giving; community development lending and investing; environmental initiatives; diversity efforts; arts and culture projects; and employee volunteerism. What are you doing with that?
Since 2007, when the world changed a bit, we decided to tailor our efforts around philanthropy into three major categories: jobs, hunger and housing. We … look to those aspects of our philanthropy because we see those areas as the most impacted by the recession and try to figure out what we can do to help in the community.
Has it improved at all?
I think we are seeing progress. We would love for the economy to be further along than it is. But with the organizations we deal with, we see great progress in the ability for individuals to find not just part-time jobs, but fill their time meaningful employment.
We’ve also seen … new homes built, through Habitat for Humanity, elder-care facilities.
Are the problems cured? Not by a long shot. But there has been concrete progress.
Bank of America has many community partners. Are there any Jewish ones?
We tend not to publish where the money is going, but I will say that we have done a lot of work with Jewish organizations. I will give an example of a partnership we have: We would have someone from The Associated: [Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore] sit in with us on our community needs assessment board. We sit down with a group of key individuals across cities and counties to tell us what they think we are doing right or wrong and to tell us what we can do better in community. Every year, we have someone from The Associated on that committee. We provide a career coach to Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital to enable those employees to do a good job maintaining employment with Levindale.
There is a combination of volunteer efforts and dollars that go to all organizations but also specifically Jewish organizations.
Do Jewish values influence your decision-making process?
Yes, the lesson of being honest and direct in the way to go about dealing with people. Whether in business
or everyday life, the way you deal with people and your level of honesty really sets the tone.
Dedication is another. I am dedicated [to my work] here, and I’ve been dedicated to the community for as long as I can remember.
When the mortgage industry imploded, banks played a role — in the cause and the cleanup. Talk about Bank of America and its role, if any, in mortgage-loan modifications etc.
We have hired hundreds of associates to deal with nothing but that and
we see it as a huge component of the recovery. If you look at Bank of America since 2008, we have modified more than 1.1 million [home loans] nationwide. In Maryland, that number is about 36,000, which includes
almost 6,000 in 2012. That process is continuing, and it is our goal to move it along as quickly as possible.
Is the banking industry stable today?
There has been tremendous improvement since 2008. Just look at Bank of America. The bank has built a fortress balance sheet. … More importantly, it is in a position to no longer feel it is spending the majority of its time on legacy issues, but rather we are in this to play offense and get back to banking. We feel very good about the state of the bank. … A lot of those issues are behind us; even though the economy is not moving at a robust pace, the change in banking and Bank of America has improved dramatically since 2008.
Tell JT readers something about Bank of America that would be tough to find in a Google search.
If you Google Bank of America, you would not find anything about the tremendous associates we have, partners we have, who work at the bank. These associates do so much on a daily basis for the communities they serve. As individuals, we enjoy working [for the community], and we love the folks we work with.
Tell readers something about yourself that they can have fun with.
I have played in a band, Tall in the Saddle, since the ’70s, and we still play to this day. It is kind of comical. We have all aged and we play less frequently, but the band is a great hobby and a great distraction for me. … It is just really a hoot for us to get together, play at a club once or twice a month, rekindle that little bit.