If you’re ever walking the halls of the Mercantil Commercebank
N.A. headquarters, don’t be surprised if J. Guillermo Villar
politely stops you to ask who you are.
It’s not some sort of security check, it’s just that Villar, president and CEO of Mercantil, is still adjusting to the fact that the
bank is constantly growing, having mushroomed to nearly 1,000
For a company that had fewer than 650 employees in 2004,
it’s been quite a change for a leader who prides himself on leading a culture of open communication.
“There’s the reality that, as the organization grows, you lose
some direct contact,” he says. “It’s very different to deal with an
organization that has 100 people than one that has 1,000 people.”
That’s not to say Villar doesn’t love the growth. Mercantil, a
subsidiary of Mercantil Commercebank Holding Corp., which is
owned by Mercantil Servicios Financieros of Venezuela, has
grown from about $3.7 billion in assets in 2004 to nearly $5.5 billion in assets in ’07.
But Villar is quick to point out that his leadership team’s ability to keep a culture of open communication between management and employees is what will keep people engaged and
So as he walks the halls, he’ll often stop and talk to people
whom he doesn’t recognize, trying to make some personal connections. Villar isn’t trying to make 1,000 new poker pals, but
it’s one way he starts to set the tone of the company’s culture
from the top. Since he can no longer touch every employee, he
wants to show those whom he can touch that he’s constantly
available, willing to listen and able to be consistent with his
effort to push communications.
“I think with the people you deal with on a regular basis that
permeates and people get to know that and people talk to people,” he says. “So if you are nice and you are receptive to the
people that are closest to you, other people know how you are,
so it’s something that becomes part of the culture.”