Citigroup is a major local employer, with about 1,900 workers at its complex in Getzville. But without a branch network in the region, Citi is not as visible as some other banks serving the region.
Anthony Vazquez would like to change that.
Vazquez, the site head at Citi's facility in CrossPoint Business Park, wants to raise awareness of the company's presence through more community outreach and by building up its relationships with area colleges and universities. Citi already has close ties to the University at Buffalo, Canisius College and Niagara University, which have proven to be a pipeline for new hires.
"Obviously, this place survives because of good talent," Vazquez said. "And you can't get good talent unless you have a name out there that says, 'Oh, that's Citi, we want to go work for them.' "
Citi's complex is a sophisticated financial hub, supporting 20 different business units. All of it grew from a 10-employee check-clearing office Citi started out with in Buffalo in the late 1970s.
Vazquez grew up in New York City. He moved here with Citi in 2007 and was named site head nearly four years ago. He's brought back some of the family-friendly activities the center used to have, like a children's Halloween party, and is a proponent of employee volunteering and community-related activities.
Vazquez talked about how the center has grown and how it fits into Citi's bigger global picture:
Q: Why does Citi choose to bring some of its operations here?
A: It's less than an hour from New York City by plane, so you just have the fact it's just so close. The reality of it is, the workforce here is second to none, and we've seen that. And we have a presence.
It's like a microcosm of exactly what we're doing in New York City. The only thing we don't have here is a trading floor. But besides that, we have people supporting the traders working from this location.
Q: How can you keep this center growing?
A: From our standpoint, I think we have the great connection to the colleges. ... We do a lot with these universities. We actually go to them and sometimes do classes. It's more than what I would call just recruiting. We also want to get involved and see what we can give back to the universities.
Q: How do you recruit people to work here?
A: It's not just run of the mill jobs that we have here. A lot of these jobs do require more senior people, more senior leadership. While I think we have really done a fabulous job at the university market, now we're also looking for some experience out there to potentially fill some of these jobs.
While we always look to grow from within, it's always good to have the option that, if there's not a fit, that you do have the option to get from the external. That's why it's important for us to get the Citi name out there, so people know exactly what we do here.
Q: How does the Getzville complex fit into Citi's global operations?
A: Ten years ago, there were 700 people here. Today, it's 1,900. … Our biggest issue right now is where we can park all these people, which is a great problem.
People will tell you Buffalo is a strategic site, for strategic growth [in Citi]. More jobs continue to move here. It's a lot of organic growth, but we always come up on the radar if there's something in New York City that potentially needs to move to someplace else. Buffalo, we always get a look at it.
You can see that we have come a long way. We actually celebrated our 40th year in Buffalo (last year). We had our CEO, Michael Corbat, up for the day. ... We've had our (chief financial officer) visit last year. It's really those senior leader visits to the site that continue to basically say, "You guys are important to us. We continue to want to see you grow and want to see you continue to develop and increase."
Right now, capacity at this site is 2,200. We're trying to figure out how to get every one of those seats filled.
Q: You've brought back some of the family-friendly activities Citi used to have here. Why was that important to you?
A: Everybody's working very, very hard. I'm always looking to try to kind of cut that edge a little, allow people to have a little fun and let off steam. I think we do a lot of different things here and it shows. And we've been getting some great feedback on the things that we've been doing, and people seem to be very, very happy.