Martin K. Birmingham
President & Chief Executive Officer, Financial Institutions, Inc. and Five Star Bank
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Throughout the journey, you should appreciate the variety of experiences that prepare you for future success. Career progression is grounded in hunger for pursuing opportunities, humility in success and tenacity with setbacks. Recognize that mistakes are a natural part of the leadership and management process. Finally, you cannot do it by yourself — effective leaders and strong-performing businesses are grounded by vibrant and positive corporate cultures with high-performing teams that enable strong execution of strategy and tactics.
What’s been your biggest success?
It has been very fulfilling to serve as a local community banker for the last 32 years, working in various jobs of increasing responsibility to support the economic well-being and vitality of our community. As CEO, I’ve realized a long-term goal to lead an organization actively contributing to positive outcomes for the Rochester/Finger Lakes Region. Together with my teammates, we have transformed and grown Five Star Bank and affiliates into an employer of choice that takes wonderful care of our customers while supporting the communities we serve.
Who have been the biggest mentors in your career?
My dad was a self-made local bank president whose formal education concluded with his graduation from Monroe High School. He provided lots of insights and common sense focused on sustainability by “bringing something to the party” for your employer. Erkie Kailbourne has been an active mentor since hiring me as a management trainee more than 30 years ago. I have also benefited from an engaged and supportive Board of Directors led by Chair Bob Latella and Vice Chair Susan Holliday, who have provided effective and extensive counsel.
What are your hopes for the Rochester community this year?
As a native Rochesterian, I have always believed that greater Rochester is a wonderful place to live, work and play. Our community does have very serious challenges, however, my confidence and positive outlook for our region is grounded in a long-term track record of resiliency and a “can do” spirit of cooperation and collaboration between key stakeholders. I am one of many community leaders committed to working together to help solve our most complex challenges while reinforcing the strength and quality of life in Rochester.
What do you do to unplug in your free time?
I enjoy spending time with family, traveling and playing an occasional round of golf.