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Great leaders are great stewards, lessons from a Pittsburgh CEO

Great leaders are great stewards, lessons from a Pittsburgh CEO
Great leaders are great stewards, lessons from a Pittsburgh CEO
Great leaders are great stewards, lessons from a Pittsburgh CEO

“Partnerships with educational institutions drive outreach efforts within businesses and the local community,” said Helen Hanna, CEO of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, during the Chamber Strome Business Series on Wednesday, December 4, 2019, at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel.

Bryan K. Stephens, President and CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber, welcomed those in attendance and thanked Old Dominion University for their partnership on the Chamber Strome Business Series. “We are honored to collaborate with Dean Tanner and the Strome College of Business for this unique series. This series, with the tie to Old Dominion University, truly hits our mission to be an inspiring ignitor,” said Stephens.

Stephens cited the Chamber’s recent Inter-Regional Visit (IRV) to Raleigh, Durham, and the Triangle. “One of the things we learned from the IRV is the importance of partnership and connectivity in generating job growth and innovation.” He also mentioned the IRV to Pittsburgh, “Last year we went to Pittsburgh, and one thing we learned is the importance of purposeful partnerships. The power of collective impact is critical to business and for regions to come together. That was the genesis of today’s Chamber Strome event.”

Jeff Tanner, Dean of the ODU Strome College of Business, said, “This event allows us to bring students together to learn and practice networking skills.” Tanner said he is proud of ODU’s accelerated success and recognition throughout Hampton Roads. “We are ranked 25th by the Princeton review, and it helps us gain recognition for the area as well as for our graduating students to be successful.” 

“Being a leader is a tough job; it’s not an easy thing,” began Helen Hanna. Hanna asked the audience, “How do I build and maintain stability?” She told the audience that being a leader within a business is to build and maintain stability. “We have to look at stability as well as growth. A good part of my role is coaching people and teaching them to maximize their assets.” 

Hannah said the Hampton Roads region has a significant market and a growing one at that. She said, “The numbers here are astounding. Virginia Beach is now the second-largest city we serve, and this market is the number one market in increasing production.” She also noted the importance of a community united on all fronts with business, public, private, and educational industries working cohesively. “The number of private and public businesses and nonprofits make Hampton Roads a good place for the financial services industry such as Howard Hanna Real Estate.” 

“Whether you are a steward for your community, or whether you are a President, CEO, manager, leader, associate, it is what you see in the community,” Hanna said. She told the audience to be courageous. She noted that partnerships occur at all levels, regardless of position or experience level. “All of us have to combine our strengths to unify to go out and compete in the global world we live in today.” 

A key component of Hanna’s keynote address focused on regionalism and the partnerships which bring communities together. “You, as a business community, have to take off your business hats and say, ‘let’s merge,’” said Hanna. She described the difficulty of thinking outside the box and encouraged business leaders to come together. “We have a tagline which says ‘together we do great things,’ and that’s what your Chamber does.” She continued, “That’s what they do with ODU, and that’s what we can do to enhance our communities.” 

The presentation concluded with a brief Q&A. Bryan Stephens asked Hanna if she had experienced gender bias during her career and how she overcame it. Hanna responded, “I think there’s lots of inappropriate behavior that has nothing to do with touching someone. It has to do with word of mouth and people’s actions.” She said that the way to overcome these challenges is to work smarter and control how you react to situations. “It’s how we react to things that make the difference,” said Hanna. 

Stephens’s final question focused on how Hampton Roads can come together to create a sense of place and drive regionalism. Hanna said, “Our new convention center in Pittsburgh created an anchor as a sense of place.” She said convention centers tend to show outside businesses who are attracted to a new region that there is growth potential there. “We’ve seen it out in Cleveland and Charlotte, Convention centers bring business around it, which is a part of the sense of place. I also think that partnerships with universities and bringing in young people for jobs has helped create a sense of place and pride,” ended Hanna. 

The Chamber Strome Series will continue in 2020, and the Hampton Roads Chamber would like to thank the following sponsors: Atlantic Union Bank (Presenting Sponsor) and Howard Hanna Real Estate Services (Silver Sponsor).


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