M&T Bank's $4 million renovated downtown training facility includes computer labs, lecture rooms and modern video conferencing capabilities.
Its walls also feature a series of quotes from Robert G. Wilmers, the late chairman and CEO who was known as a strong proponent of recruiting and developing employees. The quotes reflect the straightforward approach Wilmers took to his job and the banking industry, in speeches and letters to shareholders.
"If I don't speak out, who will?" reads one of his quotes. "A community banker has got to be involved in the industry."
"If the community does well, the bank does well," reads another.
Richard S. Gold, M&T's president and chief operating officer, said Wilmers would have been embarrassed seeing his quotes so prominently displayed, but would have lauded the results of the training center overhaul.
Wilmers was focused on "how to attract the best, how to grow the best, how to nurture the best, how to be the best as individual contributors to this organization," Gold said, as the bank opened the renovated center on Thursday. "Because he knew the aggregation of each individual's effort makes for a great organization."
M&T's Center for Learning and Development, inside M&T Center at One Fountain Plaza, was due for an upgrade. The center opened in 1994, when the bank had 3,200 employees in Western New York. Today, the bank has more than 7,000 employees in the region, among 17,000 companywide.
"We're big now, and we had outgrown this space so desperately," said Janet Coletti, head of human resources. "We were forever at hotels, conference centers, just trying to find a place that's large enough to accommodate some of the teams. So it's nice to be able to do it right here."
The new center features more space, as well as more-advanced and interactive technology. The renovated center also makes a better first impression on new employees, who receive orientation there, Colleti said.
The improvements aren't just for locally based workers. M&T estimates 1,000 employees from across its Northeast operations will visit the center for conferences and training each week, up 48 percent from previous years.