Daniel J. Burns
SVP and Regional President, Rochester, M&T Bank
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career?
I recently attended a leadership development program, and something I learned at it has stuck with me: Whether we realize it or not, all of us have an ego. And egos have a lot to do with our happiness. They can get in the way of our growth by preventing us from hearing critical but necessary feedback from others. They create unrealistic expectations and entitlement. Through the program, I learned that personal and professional happiness is found when being vulnerable with people, always being inquisitive and direct, and being genuine in helping others to be successful. Following this approach creates a win-win outcome every time.
What’s been your biggest success?
Selfishly, I would say I am most proud of how engrained M&T is in the fabric of Rochester. In 1990, I moved from my hometown of Batavia to Brighton to help M&T, a Buffalo-based community bank, enter the Rochester market. Today, thanks to hundreds of dedicated employees, M&T is the number one bank in the region in terms of deposits, and each year we support more small businesses with SBA loans than any other area lender. Great companies have an enduring sense of purpose. Ours is to make a difference in people’s lives. We’re driven to help, and it’s gratifying to work for a company so committed to driving economic progress and moving Rochester forward, improving the lives of all who live here.
What are your hopes for the Rochester community this year?
One hope I have is that this pandemic will support our region’s talent attraction efforts and lead to relocation or formation of new small businesses. People from large cities have looked for places in Upstate New York to have more space and more access to recreation, with less congestion. The way I see it, Rochester has a lot to offer. It has a feel of a small town in a large city. The homes for sale are some of the most affordable in the United States. We have local sports, night life, and there’s no shortage of amazing restaurants. Rochester is a great place to live, work and play.
I’m confident in Rochester’s long-term economic trajectory and optimistic our local economy will begin to rebound in the months ahead. However, let’s remember we’re still in a pandemic, and our local businesses need our support. That’s my other hope. That people will continue to do all they can to make sure our small businesses and great venues like The Strong, Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester Broadway Theatre League, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, CMAC, Jazz Fest and many others are able to once again bring all of us together!
What do you do to unplug in your free time?
During the spring, summer and fall months, you’ll find me on the golf course. Heck, you’ll even find me there on some warm days in winter, when the greens allow. How lucky am I to have landed in Rochester, one of the top 10 golf cities in America? I love that golf tests your character and resolve during every round. You get good and bad breaks, and it is just you and the course. I have tried to play as many of the top 100 courses as possible. So far, I have made good progress, but I have a long way to go. I am very lucky that my wife of 35 years, Denise, is also a golfer and a big fan of the game.
And given the pandemic has cut back travel for the time being, I am also very grateful to have traveled extensively with Denise and our three kids over the years. We are big Tauck Tour fans and have done five trips with this outstanding Rochester-based travel company.