MDC Yields Banking Leaders
Taking a leadership role in the world of high finance, Miami Dade College has produced more of South Florida’s top banking executives than other institutions in the region.
Some of the banking magnates who got their start at MDC include Juan del Busto, regional president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; Guillermo Castillo, president of middle market commercial banking for JPMorgan Chase; and also Israel Velasco, Florida region executive for Popular Community Bank, among many others.
The College has been churning out these innovative thinkers for decades, and alumni say the education they received at MDC prepared them for successful careers at the top of their demanding field.
Gladys Reed, market president of BankUnited’s Miami-Dade/South Broward Market, began her studies at MDC without knowing what career she would choose. She took business classes while working for a bank and has been climbing the corporate ladder ever since, now managing 29 branches and more than 200 employees.
“Coming to MDC represented attending a great community college,” she said. ”I began building the foundation of what I wanted to do in life.”
Miriam López, president and chief lending officer of Marquis Bank, credits her success to the broad-based and diverse education she received at Miami Dade College.
López, a 1970 graduate of the College’s North Campus, said many of the courses she took at MDC, even those outside her major, enriched her life and have been vital to her career.
Striving for Excellence
When Great Florida Bank Chief Executive Officer Mehdi Ghomeshi talks about his alma mater, he uses terms about “honor” and “character.”
“MDC prepared me for the foundation of doing it right and making sure I am always honorable and that I maintain my integrity in business dealings,” said Ghomeshi, who served as president at Barnett Bank and then BankUnited before raising $60 million in initial capital to open Great Florida Bank. He credited MDC for sending him on his way to success.
“The world is full of dreamers,” he said. “At MDC, I learned how to move ahead and take concrete steps to actualize my vision.”
Carlos R. Fernández-Guzmán’s education from Miami Dade College did not end with his graduation in 1976. The president, CEO and director of Pacific National Bank, a $350 million enterprise, said he has continued to learn from his alma mater over the past three-plus decades.
“Just watching how well the College has done and how it has developed top professionals has been an inspiration for me to always strive for excellence,” Fernández-Guzmán said.
His professional career at Southeast Banking Corp. and later Consolidated Bank in Hialeah, where he rose to the rank of senior vice president, served as a springboard to high-ranking positions he held subsequently. But he never forgot the school where his success began.
Fernández-Guzmán said it has been “impressive” to watch what MDC President Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón has been able to accomplish for Miami Dade College.
“Dr. Padrón has an absolute commitment to excellence and has continued to challenge the College, the students and the faculty to take it to the next level,” he said. “He never rests on his laurels, and that is a great example to follow.”
The financial leaders above are just a few of many distinguished leaders of the South Florida banking community who got their start at MDC. Other notable alumni include:
- Sheldon Anderson, Southeast regional president/ CEO, Northern Trust Bank of Florida N.A.
- Ernie Díaz, South Florida market president, TD Bank
- Victoria Garrigo, Southeast regional manager, HSBC Private Bank
- Jorge González, president and CEO, City National Bank of Florida
- Octavio Hernández, president and CEO, U.S. Century Bank
- Roberto Muñoz, South Florida regional executive for commercial banking, BBVA Compass
- Obdulio Piedra, market president, Great Florida Bank
- Hector Ponte, president of community banking, Wells Fargo
- Jorge Triay, president and CEO, First Bank of Miami
— AMS, WV