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Lex Meagher

President

 

Lex Meagher by an ocean coast in Europe

Q&A

What brought you to Kennebunk Savings?

From a very early age, I knew I wanted to be a banker. Not convinced? In truth, like many things in life, it came down to timing and relationships. In 2011, I was in the final year of a clerkship with the Maine Supreme Court and considering the next step in my legal career. Also in 2011, Kennebunk Savings was planning for the retirement of their long-tenured General Counsel. There’s the timing. And the relationship? The Bank’s hiring manager and then-Chief Risk Officer, Bill Saufley, asked for recommendations from several colleagues in the legal community, including the Maine Supreme Court.  I was recommended to Bill for an interview for the General Counsel position and the rest, as they say, is history. Of course, I had high hopes for my career at Kennebunk Savings. The past 12 years have been better than anything I could have imagined.

What would you like to say about being named Brad Paige’s successor and future CEO?

There’s not enough space—nor do I have the words—to properly capture being named the successor to Brad Paige.  Brad has been the single greatest influence in my professional career. His mentorship and support, along with his example as the leader of this institution, has been invaluable. I plan to extract every last bit of wisdom before his retirement in 2025. Brad often describes himself as a steward—like those before him, dedicated to ensuring the enduring success of this institution well beyond his tenure. I intend to continue this tradition.

What does a good day at work look like to you?

For me, a good day means variety. In my prior role as General Counsel, I relished being involved in many areas—from negotiating vendor contracts and answering branch calls, to reviewing mortgage documents and deposit disclosures. As Chief Credit Officer, my focus is narrower—oriented around commercial credit—but my days are anything but typical. I begin most days with a “to do” list, but rarely do the hours unfold as planned. Some level of controlled chaos is probably my sweet spot – a skill that I hope benefits me as I take on additional responsibilities as President.

What do you like best about the culture at Kennebunk Savings? Which one of our brand values (Integrity, Empathy, Proactive, Trust) resonates most strongly for you?

When I think about the Bank’s culture, the first word that comes to mind is “helping.” Externally, our focus is on our customers and community—doing what we can to help them succeed. That’s definitely a shared goal across the organization. Internally—and, I think, a huge driver of our culture—is that same commitment to each other. There’s a genuine interest in helping each other succeed day-to-day, both in service of our shared organizational goals and, in many cases, personally. I know I’m biased, but my experience here is that we’ve got a bunch of a genuinely good people who want to do the right thing.

For me, the value of empathy resonates most strongly. When I think of the “helper” spirit at Kennebunk Savings, it’s rooted in empathy: understanding the feelings and circumstances of another person. Whether that person is a co-worker, customer, or member of the community—I think we’re at our best when we’re actively trying to understand the perspective of others.

What’s an important lesson you’ve learned in your career?

Often, the greatest value you bring to an organization isn’t your “technical knowledge” or mastery of the responsibilities set forth in a job description. Don’t get me wrong—you’ve got to be able to do the job, and get the work done. But, really, the magic happens when you think institutionally: what is the organization trying to accomplish, and how can I help? In the past year, for example, I’ve observed our CEO underwrite PPP loans and Senior Managers deliver computer equipment to remotely-working staff. The exciting part is that needs are always changing! By being proactive and institutionally-minded, you’ll never run out of new and interesting challenges.

What words or phrases do you most overuse?

Although I’ve been working in banking since 2011 and now spend my days focused on commercial credit, I haven’t fully kicked many of my “lawyer-isms.” That usually comes through in my writing, which tends to be overly formal (think: “therefore” and “whereas.”) I also say “I don’t disagree” a lot. Is that a lawyer thing?

What would you consider your greatest achievement or moment of greatest impact?

Professionally, I am most proud of my role in the Bank’s management of the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program. When PPP went “live” shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic began, I was about 14 months into my tenure as Senior Commercial Credit Officer, having spent the previous 7+ years as the Bank’s General Counsel. Still relatively new to the job. The inaugural “PPP weekend” in April was a rollercoaster of challenges—complex rules, overwhelming demand, and a remote workforce. Together with a small group stationed at the Bank’s Operations Center, we developed, implemented, and scaled a system that ultimately enabled the Bank to originate loans that were critical to many of our local businesses at a difficult time. I’m pleased how we responded to step up for our community.

 

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