Dean hosts fireside chat with president and CEO of EagleBank Susan Riel

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Ajay Vinzé, dean of the Donald G. Costello College of Business at George Mason University, sat down with Susan Riel, president and CEO of EagleBank, for a fireside chat on the afternoon of Wednesday, April 10.

Susan Riel, president and CEO of EagleBank
Susan Riel, president and CEO of EagleBank

In front of faculty, students, and community guests gathered on George Mason’s Fairfax Campus, their discussion covered a range of topics, from EagleBank’s evolution as a startup to a community bank, to how regional banks support the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Having been at EagleBank since 1998, Riel has held several different positions, experiencing and driving the decades-long evolution of the bank and its impact on clients.  

EagleBank’s mission is to be the most trusted, experienced, and client-centric bank across the Washington, D.C., region and beyond. With clients over the years including MOM’s Organic Market and Honest Tea, EagleBank was founded on the belief that every person and business deserves individualized financial guidance from experts who care. The bank’s "Relationships FIRST" policy was echoed throughout Riel’s remarks. FIRST is an acronym, standing for flexible, involved, responsive, strong, and trusted. 

Susan Riel speaks with Dean Ajay Vinzé
Susan Riel speaks with Dean Ajay Vinzé

“Entrepreneurs depend on banks,” said Riel. Despite the current challenges for commercial real estate, resulting from many employees not returning to the office following the pandemic, she explained how the banking system is as important as ever and has continued to evolve. Fewer consumers are making banking transactions in person at the brick-and-mortar buildings, leading to a reduction of bank branches. However, with nearly everyone completing their banking needs via mobile devices, digital products are more important than ever before.

“Thinking strategically is an important part of any business,” she said. When considering a bank for employment opportunities, many job seekers think there are limited opportunities. However, Riel assured the audience that there are many professions within a bank, and especially at EagleBank. Many of the new jobs are results of this shift to a more digital banking experience. 

Leadership, and especially leading as a woman, was another major theme of the discussion. When addressing how women can get ahead in the workplace, Riel said, “Speak up and share your ideas when you have them. Be open and outspoken.” But it is also advice that she would give to anyone looking to make their mark. “Don’t limit yourself,” she said. “Be open to opportunities.” 

After asking his questions, Dean Vinzé opened it to the audience.

Riel spoke of the name recognition that came from naming George Mason’s EagleBank Arena and explained how EagleBank hires diverse thinkers by always attempting to hire the best person for the position.

This is the third fireside chat hosted by Dean Vinzé. The fireside chats are instrumental in providing knowledge and insights to the Costello College of Business community and forging partnerships with leaders in business.