People’s United Bank president urges students to never let fear get in the way of success

March 04, 2020

Tengel presents podium

Jeff Tengel, president of People’s United Bank, urged members of the university community to appreciate the resources Connecticut offers to foster innovation and entrepreneurship as part of the People’s United Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship’s speaker series on Wednesday.

Even though the gross domestic product growth in Connecticut is negative, Tengel stressed that a robust economic ecosystem is possible. And, often times, growth comes from collaboration.

“Connecticut is fifth in the nation in terms of advanced degrees with about 40% of residents holding advanced degrees,” said Tengel. “On top of that, Connecticut ranks as the fourth most innovative state in the United States – and the challenge is how to build on that.”

He also said that 97% of businesses in Connecticut employ fewer than 500 people and that 50% of all Connecticut employees work for small businesses.

“Small businesses are where much of our innovation starts,” said Tengel. “And that’s where banks come in. We can be a catalyst to help an idea take root.”

But innovation doesn’t necessarily have to start in a room or a garage, according to Tengel — people can do innovative things in corporate settings through redesigns, efficiencies and improving the consumer experience. He said that People’s United Bank has worked to improve the loan application submission process — so that applicants will now learn in just a couple of days the status of their loan application. People’s United Bank is also working to expand into industries where it hasn’t been involved before.

Founded in 1842, People’s United Bank offers commercial and retail banking through a network of more than 400 retail locations in Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, as well as wealth management and insurance solutions.

“Don’t be constrained by conventional thinking and logic,” Tengel stressed. “Come talk with us – our advice is free. Talk with us and we’ll tell you what we’ve seen.”

Tengel shared the two pieces of advice that he stresses to his children.

“First, always have an opinion. Don’t assume people don’t want to hear what you have to say,” urged Tengel. “And, second, don’t be afraid to network across the organization. Generally speaking, everyone likes to mentor young people and colleagues to facilitate their careers and think through ideas.”

People's United Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship

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