The most important quality for a financial executive is integrity, according to Jerry Hiller.
Hiller has been vice president for finance and administration at Keuka College since 2004. Prior to that, he was city manager of Watertown, village administrator in East Aurora and town manager of Batavia.
“When bad things have happened, it starts at the top with the erosion of integrity” of the person sitting at the chief desk, Hiller said. In every office he has worked in he has openly displayed the relevant code of ethics for his organization, he added.
Robert Schick, chairman of the board and CEO of LNB Banking, wrote in his nomination that Hiller’s oversight has sustained Keuka College “through the severe national recession of 2009 and its lingering drag on our economy.”
“In his 14 years at Keuka College, the college has not drawn on its operating lines of credit that have been readily available to the school,” Schick wrote. “Jerry’s pencil has been proven to be very sharp—much to the chagrin of many bankers.”
Hiller has found that working as a vice president of finance and administration for a college is very similar to the work of a government administrator. A small college campus is much like running a small city, and you can know most every campus employee or municipal worker, Hiller said.
“My focus has always been to work for a mission-driven organization, not to say that working for a for-profit organization is bad,” Hiller said. “What motivates me is more of a mission-driven organization that is somehow or other serving the community writ large.”
He also has been active in the community over the years, serving as a board member of the Jefferson County Youth Board, the Alcohol & Substance Abuse Council of Jefferson County and the United Way of Northern New York, among other roles.
In Hiller’s eyes, nothing he has ever accomplished was something done alone, and his award needs to be shared with all the colleagues in the offices he has worked in.
“You don’t just do it alone,” he said. “It’s a team effort.”
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