Tom Doherty, ’85, Brings ‘Relationship Banking’ Experience to Pitney Bowes
By Eva Richards
Tom Doherty, ’85, has always tried to make a place for himself, where he knew he would be needed.
Early on, it was as part of the soccer, hockey and lacrosse teams in his Buffalo, New York, high school. After he transferred to NIU from Indiana University, he learned to be a valued player on the Huskie men’s soccer team.
“My brother was playing at NIU, so I transferred there as a sophomore and was a redshirt,” he recalled. “We ended up in my senior year being a Top 20-ranked team, and I was lucky enough to be co-captain and was honored by NIU with the Scholar-Athlete Award my senior year."
Doherty says those days with the Huskie team and Coach Jerry Collins gave him a chance that he still remembers like it was yesterday.
“They taught me drive and determination but also time management skills that absolutely had a major impact on my career since NIU,” he said. “My best advice for anyone coming out of school in whatever field they go into is to create a ‘niche’ for yourself in that industry and become known for it,” he said.
Doherty did just that. During his senior year as a finance major, he took a banking class and really enjoyed it and ended up going into banking after graduation. He has been in the industry ever since.
“Over the years, I’ve made myself known in the small business banking space, speaking at conferences on sales practices, credit underwriting, deposit growth, strategic planning and other topics, and it has served me very well,” he said.
After moving to Florida after NIU in 1985, Doherty went through a commercial banking training program and has been involved in small business banking ever since.
“In the early days, they wanted me to learn the tougher parts of banking, so they made me work collections, where we had to repossess our own vehicles,” he said. “I have some good stories there, trust me!”
However, those difficult situations only primed Doherty to climb the ladder in his field. While in Florida, he took classes at night to earn his M.B.A. from Crummer Graduate School at Rollins College. He became a bank retail branch manager by the age of 24, which was a great experience, and then returned to commercial banking, where he was a relationship manager before moving back to Chicago where he started managing teams of business bankers and coaching them on sales and credit principles.
Next, Doherty moved to LaSalle Bank/ABN AMRO where he ran a larger business banking team with over 100 employees in multiple states for over 10 years. He worked in various business banking leadership roles for Park National Bank, First Chicago Bank & Trust and CIBC US before being recruited to work for Pitney Bowes this fall. Pitney Bowes is an American technology company most known for its postage meters and other mailing equipment and services, with expansions into e-commerce, software, and other technologies because of that small business background.
“I am at Pitney Bowes because of my small business expertise,” he said. “This is a 100-year-old company with a great reputation in stamping and shipping products and services, and they have about one million small business clients.”
In his role as VP of Lending Services and Products, Doherty is helping to build out a lending program to these smaller clients to add things like working-capital lending, along with other small-business lending solutions.
“I’m working with a small team that has a great history with the company, and we will be building out that team with new strategies around growing a shipping and logistics banking business,” he said.
Doherty spends his days building out the strategy and working on the sales process and products that will be attractive to Pitney Bowes clients, along with maintaining the back office and support areas that will be needed.
“As this takes shape, I can’t wait to get out again and spend time with clients, touring their facilities and learning about their business,” he said. “I travel quite a bit now as my team is spread throughout the U.S. and Pitney Bowes’ headquarters is in Connecticut. One of the reasons I also accepted this position is the ability to travel as my kids are older now and I don’t have to do the commute to downtown Chicago anymore!”
Doherty notes that the best part of relationship banking in commercial and small business is that every day is unique.
“One day, I can visit and learn about a manufacturing plant one day who makes a small part for the auto industry, and the next day, I can be in a home healthcare business,” he said. “I am constantly learning and asking questions, even at this age. I’m not a person who likes to sit at a desk all day. I’m at the stage of my career where I could have stayed very comfortable in my traditional banking structure, or I could take on a new challenge in a new industry to learn. I chose the latter.”
Doherty said he is leveraging his background in banking to help Pitney Bowes’ clients grow and build a new team of relationship managers, while focusing on industry segments that will teach him new things.
“I’ve always loved a challenge, whether it was in sports, being told you can’t make a team, or being successful in your professional career,” Doherty said. “We all need motivators, and I love the new challenge in front of me and look forward to celebrating success with my new team in the near future!
When Doherty looks back, he cannot help but see the valuable role that NIU played in his life.
“NIU had a tremendous influence on my career success,” he said. “From athletics to the strength of the business school professors and friends I made, I think the school is large enough to give you all the resources you need but still feels small enough where the professors care and make themselves available to you. I will always look back on my days at NIU and be proud of my degree and background.
“I’ve worked with many people over the years with undergraduate and master’s degrees from Big 10, Ivy League and other ‘esteemed’ programs. The NIU degree in finance gave me the same background as any of those programs.”