For over 25 years, Rick Battaglia has worked to bring families’ and business’ financial goals to life. While the industry has changed in more ways than one over the decades, as an LGBTQ+ banking professional, Rick is pleased that he’s seen significant growth when it comes to diversity and inclusion.
“It is very diverse today. People look less at who you are and focus more on what you can do for an organization. If you’re driven, you can do a great job in the financial industry, and I don’t think that you’re going to be looked at any differently for being gay.”
Before entering banking, Rick was in the restaurant business for 15 years when he decided to make a change. With his background and management experience, he was able to immediately take on a leadership role in banking because he understood that, like hospitality, is a people-to-people business. “It’s about one’s relationships with co-workers and clients, and in the community.”
A quick learner, Rick took his interpersonal skills and applied them to his new career, eventually joining Penn Community Bank in 2017. Today, he serves as Senior Vice President, Sales and Business Development Director, focusing on the connections between retail banking, business development, and commercial lending.
Since 2015, Rick has been married to his long-time partner, Matthew. They met more than 21 years ago because of their banking careers. He says they are fortunate to be surrounded by loving and accepting family and friends, many of whom attended their wedding in Cape May, New Jersey.
With a lifetime of personal and professional experience, Rick’s advice for young people is simple: “Be yourself, be proud of who you are, be proud of where you came from, and let people get to know you. That’s very important, because sometimes people form an idea about you just because you are gay, but when they get to know you, they learn you are just like them. We have many of the same likes and dislikes, similar hobbies, and more,” he said. “There is more that connects us than divides us. Never be ashamed of who you are.”
Q&A with Rick
What does pride month mean to you?
To me, Pride Month is about celebrating diversity. It’s not simply a commemoration of Stonewall. It’s about acceptance. It’s about allowing people to be who they are. It’s about accepting people for all of their differences. Pride Month is about being human and allowing others to be themselves. It is about celebrating life and the LGBTQ+ community in whatever way one wishes to celebrate. For my husband and me, we celebrate Pride everyday by living a wonderful life, by respecting everyone we meet, by giving back to the community, and by getting to know the people we work with and for. Something many don’t know about me is that I’m also legally deaf. So, I’m both a member of the LGBTQ+ community and I have a disability. Both make me who I am: a successful and gay married businessman who loves what he does every day in the banking industry.
What attracted you to a career in banking?
I came from the customer service experience background in the restaurant business. Even though they are two very different industries, people want the same thing from their banks that people expect when they go to a restaurant. They want great service, and they want to know that they’re being taken care of. I focus on getting to know people and then finding out what their needs are. Once I know their needs, I can determine ways to help them. Business owners are great at running their businesses, but they have little time to focus on banking. It is up to us to educate them on the different products and services, understand their lending needs, how to make more money and how to save more money. I also like that the banking industry is always changing. In addition, I love working at Penn Community Bank because we’re a mutual. We’ve been around for a very long time and we’re going to stay around for a very long time and continue to take care of our customers and community.
Have you had a mentor during your career? If so, how has that factored into your professional development?
I’ve had several mentors along the way in the banking industry. There is something I can take away from everybody that I’ve worked with – I take a nugget of information from everyone I have met and learn how to implement best practices into my career in banking. In general, though, I’ve always been an individual. I have my own style and way of doing things that works for me and my customers. I want to be who I am and set my own relationship standards – and one of the many things I like about Penn Community Bank is that we can be ourselves – individuals – and be extremely successful.
Are there any nonprofit organizations about which you are passionate?
I am a trustee of Tabor Children’s Home, and I have been with them for about 10 years. I am passionate about the work they do, and they are a great organization. Tabor became a member of Woods Services, a nonprofit multi-service health care and human services organization, a few years back. Together, the Woods affiliates network operates more than 200 programs that serve more than 5,000 children and families throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.