United Way Volunteer Feels Community Service Helps Make Him a Better Business Leader

2013-Wordpress---Volunteer-Spotlight-David-FullerDavid Fuller is the President, CEO and Chairman of SunTrust Bank, Central Florida, consisting of 151 offices with more than $12 billion in total deposits in 12 counties.

David is no stranger to community involvement, as he serves on the Heart of Florida United Way Board of Directors and the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission Board of Directors and Governors Council. He previously served as HFUW’s 2011-2012 campaign chair. Treasury and Risk Magazine also recognized David as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Finance.

As a young man who came from modest beginnings, David would return to his grandfather’s farm during the summer months to help harvest cotton as well as other crops. After attending Baylor University, he accepted an offer to work for Bank One (now Chase Bank) where the young banker learned to keep focused on the things he could control.

With realistic career expectations David managed to attain more responsibility and move up through the company. However, he realized that as the job became bigger, he soon became unhappy and stated that “sometimes the way up isn’t always up.”

We recently spoke to David about his community volunteer service.

How did you first get involved with United Way?
I actually don’t remember a time in my 30 year professional career that I haven’t been involved somehow with United Way…though I am sure it hasn’t  been that long.

Please share one specific United Way client success or agency story that had a memorable effect on you.
The one that I share most often is about a student I had a chance to meet at one of the Boys & Girls Clubs. She was very excited to give me the tour of the facility but her eyes lit up when she told me that one of the leaders at the Club told her she had potential. I don’t know if anyone had ever told her that before, but it was clear that hearing that made an enormous difference in the way she viewed herself and her future.

Why is United Way so important to our community?
United Way is important for a host of reasons but I assume you have space limitations in the article. My short answer is because  the United Way is addressing the urgent needs in our community while also supporting efforts that will create sustainable, long-lasting improvements in health, education and income for those most in need.

SunTrust has been able to achieve some amazing campaign results. What is the key ingredient to running a successful workplace campaign?
We have several fantastic coordinators that do the heavy lifting: most notably Susan Kaney. Susan is passionate and energetic with the campaign. She helps rally the troops, recruits “captains” who own their part of the campaign and keeps us all organized. Each of us in leadership play a role, but Susan keeps it all coordinated. 

Has your community involvement helped make you a better business leader?
Absolutely. The opportunity to be involved not only makes me a better leader but makes me a better “follower” as well. My expertise is in banking but I walk away from each of the United Way Board meetings or community gatherings with a deeper appreciation for the leaders of our local not-for-profits and their expertise. I have an opportunity to learn from each of them about what it takes to lead complex organizations and deliver against their stated purpose.    


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