Get to know some of United’s Black leaders this Black History Month
United recognizes that the diversity of its team supports the Company’s overall mission to provide excellence in service to its stakeholders. Its commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion fosters respect and a shared purpose that aligns with the Bank’s core values and community leadership. Since the Bank’s founding in 1839, its leading principles have helped United grow from a single-office bank to a premier regional banking company with a strong presence throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. Today, the Company holds nearly $30 billion in assets and serves a consumer and commercial customer base that is diversified across lines of business as well as geography, with close to 250 offices located throughout Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, as well as Washington, D.C., where it is the largest community bank headquartered in the D.C. Metropolitan region.
United’s employees are its greatest asset – when team members thrive, so do customers and so does business. That’s why, this Black History Month, United is spotlighting some of its Black employees, their accomplishments, and the work they are doing to support their communities, bolstering the Bank’s commitment to ensuring that employees from entry-level to management are empowered to reach their full potential and make a difference, contributing to a culture that is entrepreneurial, efficient, relationship-based, and service oriented.
Meet Ebony Robinson
Ebony Robinson found her calling for human resources at a young age. While most teenagers were entering the workforce with jobs in the fast-food or retail industries, Robinson’s first job at 14 was at her local unemployment office, helping to solve workforce challenges. Since then, she’s held several positions in HR including learning and development and training roles; however, it was her time as a university visiting lecturer where she discovered her talent for breaking down complex concepts into easily understandable educational content.
Today, Robinson deploys these skills in her work as an Organizational Development Advisor, VP on United’s Learning & Talent Development team. In this role, she works with different line of business leaders to identify learning and development needs across their teams and help build engaging content to meet their specific needs. Robinson has also been tapped to participate in corporate engagement projects that promote employee satisfaction, in partnership with United’s broader Learning & Talent Development and Human Resources teams.
Robinson graduated from University of Maryland Eastern Shore, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Maryland, with a B.A. in English Language and Literature and minors in Telecommunications and Spanish. She also recently earned an MBA with a focus on Human Resources Management and Services from American InterContinental University. Her work history has totaled two decades of experience working in banking and human resources capacities.
Robinson loves to stay active. In addition to her work at United, she has returned to her roots in consulting by building her own HR and training practice that she supports outside of her normal 9-5. But as much as she enjoys teaching, learning is also a lifelong endeavor for Robinson. In her free time, she is learning to play the ukelele (but don’t ask her to give a performance just yet, she says), and she enjoys brushing up on her language skills – with a Spanish language background to supplement her new Portuguese studies.
However, Robinson is quick to emphasize the importance of work-life balance. While her weekdays are dedicated to work and education, her weekends are when she takes a moment to rest, recharge, and refresh for the week ahead. Sundays specifically are when she carves out time for her interests, and while this day is typically split between church and Sunday Night Football, her schedule of worship then kickball makes for a bit more unconventional combination. In any case, Robinson is a huge proponent for doing what you love.
Ebony’s Experience as a Black Leader
Are there any Black leaders who inspired you to lead?
I actually started my banking career by being hired by a Black leader who herself broke barriers. This was at a time when there weren’t many women in her role, and she was the only one of color. I attribute my willingness to dare to dream big to this experience. Seeing her – a trailblazer who was breaking barriers – was walking, talking proof that my dream could be a reality. I only hope that I can play a similar role for the younger generation of future leaders.
What has your experience been like as a Black leader?
As a Black business leader, my experience has been filled with many valuable lessons, with new ones still being learned each day. Having been inspired by a Black leader who paved the way for people like me, I also try to break from the norm and create my own leadership path. I’ve learned that business and compassion are not mutually exclusive; it is possible to be professional and a good leader, while also showing vulnerability and extending kindness for others on your team. This outlook has allowed me to bring my authentic self to my leadership approach and professional relationships every day, as everyone should be able to do.
What would you tell your younger self that is just starting their career?
If I could speak to 20-something-year-old Ebony, I would tell her to embrace her voice without conforming and to be patient while it develops. When you’re young, you have these ideas about who you’re supposed to be, and you set these hard deadlines for getting there. But what I know now is that that’s not how life works. Life takes many turns, but in the end, you wind up right where you belong, and who you become through all this is exactly who you’re meant to be.
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