Chad Loar, a banking executive on the rise, has been named to the chairman’s post at the Tampa Bay Partnership. He takes the helm at a unique time.
Chad Loar, PNC Bank’s west and central Florida regional president, says he has lived and worked on both sides of Tampa Bay and driven on most, if not all, of the roads in the region during his 20-year career in the area. It’s fitting, then, he finds himself the recently named chairman of the Tampa Bay Partnership, a privately funded, regional research and public policy organization — made up of a mix of business and civic leaders — whose key issues include transportation.
‘We want to make sure we are providing a platform and a voice for helping out in the business and nonbusiness everyday lives of folks in our community because everything is part of the full circle of life. All of these issues overlap.’ Chad Loar, chairman of the Tampa Bay Partnership
The appointment represents the next logical step for the fast-rising Loar, 41, who co-chaired the partnership’s Transportation Working Group prior to being named to succeed outgoing chairman David Pizzo, Florida Blue’s west Florida market president.
Loar has quickly ascended the ranks at Pittsburgh-based PNC after joining the bank in 2013. Prior to that, he worked for Bank of America, Fifth Third Bank and SunTrust.
The Business Observer spoke with Loar about his leadership experience, issues that face the Tampa Bay region and what he hopes to accomplish during his tenure as chairman of the partnership.
Like other CEO-led advocacy groups nationwide, the Tampa Bay Partnership has expanded its focus from primarily economic issues to problems — such as poverty, racial injustice and, of course, the COVID-19 crisis — that affect entire communities. How do you see the role of business leaders evolving to help meet the needs of the community in general?
Most of our focus has been on business and how it can influence a community, but where we felt we could really enhance the partnership is on the consumer or individual side. We want to make sure we are providing a platform and a voice for helping out in the business and nonbusiness everyday lives of folks in our community because everything is part of the full circle of life. All these issues overlap. Like racial equality, one of the issues we’re working on now. We’re going to be tying that in, asking: ‘How is it good for business? How’s it good for the overall community?’ That’s what we are going to be shifting toward more.
What leadership skills and strengths do you bring to your new role with the partnership?
It takes some time to understand the dynamics of the Tampa Bay region, but because I’ve been in this community for 20 years, I’ve been a member of the Tampa chamber, the Tampa EDC, the St. Pete chamber, and I currently sit on the board of the St. Pete EDC. I think I bring a perspective and a true understanding of this overall region and how to be empathetic and collaborate more than, maybe, some people who haven’t had that same experience yet. I really see the whole connectivity and dynamics among these various groups. I think I can tear barriers down from time to time and help bring people together, which will only serve to help the partnership and what we are trying to accomplish.
Do you consider yourself a natural leader or is it something you’ve had to work at?
I think you always have to work on it, and I’m an avid reader. I read a lot of books about great leaders, whether it's a business leader, a political leader or a coach. My dad was a pastor, and so maybe that helped put me on a path to leadership. My father used to say, ‘Son, you have an innate leadership quality in you, so focus on that, and read a lot about leadership.’ I ignored that for a while but in my mid- to late 20s I started picking up my reading. I also read a lot about management because leadership and management can be two completely different things, even though they have some overlap. But I’m always working at it.