Most of the time, Monitor talks with top leadership about a company’s achievements. Time and time again, these leaders attribute success to their people. This year, we asked the Monitor 100 companies to nominate an impact player who played a critical role in advancing the company. We celebrate five of these MVPs in this special feature.
Erin Rafter, Editorial Assistant, Monitor
Sandra Graydus is the senior vice president of Operations & Customer Services at LEAF Commercial Capital, where she has been instrumental in helping LEAF double its assets as well as orchestrating two acquisitions in the two years since LEAF was acquired by People’s United Bank. Graydus is also responsible for compliance, purchasing and audit functions, interfacing with People’s and overseeing business continuity planning and management at LEAF.
Graydus’ advice regarding customer relationships is to expand the definition to include coworkers as customers. By including them in the umbrella of people she serves, Graydus is there to help anyone who needs her, constantly questioning how processes can be improved.
“Sandy is a vital part of LEAF’s senior management team, providing strategic and tactical support to her colleagues. She is a great problem solver and can defuse problems before they escalate into major issues. She does all of this in a very humble, behind-the-scenes way that everyone respects. When you look at her team, you see a family, which is one of the hallmarks of a great leader,” Miles Herman, president and COO of LEAF, says.
Herman said that in addition to Graydus’ many roles, she also leads a summer internship for high school and college students and, most notably, plays an active role in the People’s Women in Leadership program.
“The goal in starting the Philadelphia chapter of the organization is to give members an ongoing chance to network, collaborate, support personal and professional development, and discover new opportunities. I consider my work with Women in Leadership a way of giving back and supporting career growth and development at all levels,” Graydus says.
Krista Spada is the senior vice president of Originations at Key Equipment Finance, where she has been since 1992. In her current role, she is responsible for all commercial channels, including corporate bank-originated leases and loans as well as all vendor verticals.
Spada was selected to be the business leader involved in replacing Key Equipment Finance’s entire front-end technology with a gold-standard, new banking platform. During this three-year period, Spada collaborated with various leaders and teams, including KeyBank, which had implemented some elements of nCino, to meet the unique needs of Key Equipment Finance’s business while staying true to the enterprise strategy.
“Krista took on a senior leadership role in the largest IT project handled by KEF in a decade, in which she was able to deep dive to solve problems, then step back and combine the details with big picture goals, and she did a fantastic job of pulling everybody together to drive the project through to go-live (and beyond),” Philip Turner, EVP and head of Originations and Capital Markets for Key Equipment Finance, says.
The greatest challenge Spada was up against was managing a change happening across multiple stakeholders in the organization. However, by listening, making tough decisions and staying adaptable, she made sure the entire process went over smoothly and successfully.
“I think listening and being able to articulate what you’ve learned and applying that to the situation is important. Be curious, be approachable, be engaged, ask questions, because that’s how you gain the knowledge,” Spada says. “I am the attention-to-details person. Learn from your mistakes. Everybody is going to [make] mistakes, but it’s what you learned from it and can apply it to the next situation that counts.”
Jaimie Haver is a senior vice president at Hanmi Bank. Originally, Haver was a part of Bank of California’s leasing division, an entity that was later acquired by Hanmi Bank in 2016. During the transition, Haver led credit and operations while serving on the founding team that shaped the equipment leasing department into what it is today.
More recently, Haver oversees the operations of her team, ensuring each task, no matter how big or small, gets done.
“Things that are necessary and critical, many people might not find that they add value, that they might be mundane or tedious tasks, but they’re actually critical and necessary and they add so much value. So, it’s helping to identify why what they’re doing adds value and impact to somebody else,” Haver says.
“Jaimie leads from the front, she has always shown a great respect for work ethic and morality — she does the right thing 100% of the time — she believes in what she is doing and as a result, people follow without hesitation,” Kevin Kepp, EVP of Hanmi Bank, says.
Haver is driven by her passion for leasing and making a difference in other people’s lives. Her advice for those trying to make an impact in their industry is to start by serving others through something you love to do.
“I love leasing. I don’t think that there’s another industry that can contribute to helping a small business achieve their dreams by getting the equipment they need,” Haver says. “Whatever you determine is the area you want to focus in, if you’re not passionate about it and don’t love it, then you’re working for a paycheck rather than for a feeling of service.”
In the future, Haver says it is a goal of hers to transition into a role where she is able to serve the leasing community by bringing passion and fun back into companies that have lost sight of the purpose behind their work.
Jason Muncy is the director of Funding and Investor Relations at Stonebriar Commercial Finance, where he has been since 2017. Muncy joined Stonebriar from Credit Suisse, where he was a director in the firm’s New York office in Securitized Products.
At Stonebriar, Muncy led efforts to close two AAA-rated hybrid asset-backed securitizations totaling $1.3 billion, helped build and extend Stonebriar’s $1 billion revolving line of credit with its bank group led by Bank of America for four years, and oversaw the issuance of $150 million of investment grade rated unsecured notes in a private placement.
Muncy says the three aspects that were crucial in getting the AAA ratings were Stonebriar’s good management team, a strong equity sponsor and the ability to tell Stonebriar’s story on the securitization side. Muncy is located in the Northeast and works with Stonebriar’s Texas-based team remotely.
In a management position that is new to the company, Muncy’s inclusive leadership style has been crucial in helping Stonebriar transition into the largest private independent with a $3 billion balance sheet and an approaching seventh ABS deal.
“His leadership skills are likewise evident in the way he works to groom his next-generation colleagues. He is very well respected among that group of up-and-coming top performers,” Dave Fate, president and CEO of Stonebriar, says. Andy Fletcher, SVP and general counsel of Stonebriar, echoes Fate’s assessment of Muncy’s skills.
Muncy has been a role model for the next generation of professionals at Stonebriar. His goals include continuing to help young people grow and develop in their roles.
“I think what Stonebriar is good at and what I aspire to continue to do is to try to help others to grow into new roles and help them develop professionally. Since I joined in 2017, that’s been a big piece of what I’ve tried to do outside of the day-to-day funding activities. I think from an organizational perspective, that’s absolutely crucial, to continue to fill the business with good, young, emerging talent,” Muncy says.
“Jason is easy to like. Behind his laid-back demeanor is a brilliant mind and a wicked sense of humor. He works hard, driven by an innate desire to ‘do the right thing,’” Fate says. “We are fortunate to have someone of Jason’s caliber to be the face of Stonebriar in those roles.”
Chris Johanneson is the vice president of Digital Strategy, Marketing & Originations at ENGS Commercial Finance. Prior to joining ENGS in 2016, Johanneson spent a majority of his career in the transportation industry, which he credits with helping him learn the business from the ground up.
As vice president, Johanneson’s main focus is on ENGS’ customer and vendor facing tools and resources, tied in with the back-office perspective, which enables ENGS to go to market quickly and accurately.
Johanneson and his team have been successful in their initiatives. In April, ENGS launched Propel, a platform for vendors that gives them the ability to enter transactions, tailor transactions based upon customer needs and generate contract documents. Propel placed ENGS in a competitive position from a time-to-market perspective. Currently, Johanneson and his team are working toward implementing auto processing technology to improve credit decision timing and documentation.
“I would describe Chris’ leadership skills as the following: he leads by example. By that I mean he works hard, is always accessible and gets projects done on time. He is a high intellect person and a good problem solver. He has the respect of his team, his peers and his leaders, and he’s a great networker both inside and outside our organization. If you have these qualities, you can be a good leader, and he has them,” Jim Freund, EVP and chief marketing officer for ENGS, says.
Beyond the digital strategy side, Johanneson oversees the marketing and sales originations teams. In these sectors, Johanneson strives to enhance the digital marketing footprint and deliver incremental value in the sale of equipment.
“My recommendation is pretty simple. Listen, don’t be afraid to fail and just be true to yourself and your morals. Most importantly, it’s not the individual that makes the impact at all, it’s really those who you surround yourself with and I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the people I work with on a daily basis and the dedication they have. It is such a pleasure to work with them,” Johanneson says.
The transportation industry has been significantly affected by the pandemic economy. Now it is seeing a revival, from an equipment finance perspective, despite perceptions within the lending community that COVID-19 has had a negative impact.