Meet a Local Leader: Andrew Mozena

Andrew Mozena, president and CEO of Premier Bank

Andrew Mozena began his career with Premier Bank in Dubuque at its inception in October 1998. He worked in numerous capacities until he was named president and CEO on March 23, 2020.

In those positions, he is responsible for the oversight and direction of Premier Bank, while providing philanthropic support to the community in which the bank serves. Mozena is a volunteer serving on the board of Greater Dubuque Development Corp., Finley Health Foundation and Convivium Urban Farmstead among other organizations.

The Mozena family members are avid supporters of arts and heritage in Dubuque, and have been recognized with local and national accolades with a BCA10 award by Americans for the Arts as one of the top 10 companies in the nation supporting the arts.

Mozena is a native of Dubuque and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa. Additionally, he has completed the AMA Commercial Lending School at SMU, and the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Andy is married to his wife, Amy, and they have three daughters, Sophia, Hannah and Charlotte. The family enjoys being active in the Dubuque community, traveling the world and have a keen interest in all things culinary.

Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?

Truthfully, I can’t pick out one person. I have been blessed with belonging to a family of leaders in Dubuque. From saving historic buildings, preserving cultural heritage, starting businesses, launching festivals and supporting the arts — there have just been so many examples of what leadership is and the one common denominator has been how do we improve our community.

The main lesson I’ve learned from my family through the years is that while writing checks is important, someone must do the work to make things happen.

What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization? At their core, most businesses can be boiled down to balancing risk versus reward. My position is to make sure we are operating in a way that provides reasonable reward without taking on untenable risk. Beyond that, I find myself spending a great deal of time considering my co-workers and how we can better provide a rewarding career, while delivering the work/life balance that is so important to all of us.

As an organization gets larger, there can be a tendency for the “institution” to dampen the “inspiration.” How do you keep this from happening? This is an excellent question and one which we have spent a great deal of time considering during the past several years. I believe that you need to know who you are, what you’re good at and translate that into a vision for the future.

For instance, we are Dubuquers, and we know how to provide excellent service to our customers. Our vision is to be the financial services provider of choice for the tri-state area. Having a narrow focus allows us to remain inspired to give our best to our customers and community and not be distracted by other opportunities.

I’ll be the first to recognize that this isn’t a common approach for our industry where nobody is ever large enough. We just happen to disagree and believe that Dubuque has a bright future, and we look forward to playing a small part in realizing that potential.

Which is more important to your organization — mission, core values or vision? Of the three, I believe that vision is the most difficult to articulate and by far the most important predictor of future success. The understanding of what we are trying to achieve together as a company (vision) serves as the blueprint for what we do (mission) and how we go about trying to achieve our goals (core values).

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess? Grit. Leaders with grit have a combination of perseverance and passion toward long-term goals. You will face countless challenges, failures and setbacks along the way which can become roadblocks if you let them. You must find a way to navigate the roadblocks to successfully realize your vision.

What advice do you have for future leaders? My advice would be to never say no to an opportunity to prove yourself capable. Many times, people get caught up in the thinking that something “isn’t their job” — well make it your job, and use those opportunities to learn something new and show that you are ready to take on more responsibility.

Throughout my career I can’t think of a single time when I refused to take something on — regardless of if I wanted to or felt I had the time. I can see the very same trait in the future leaders at our company today.

What lessons can leaders take away from the current pandemic? The first take-away lesson is to embrace change. I don’t know if there is a more regimented or regulated industry than financial services, but if there is I don’t want to know about it.

That said, the pandemic laid bare some of our historic beliefs about how we needed to operate and proved that both businesses and customers can adapt quickly. Regardless of whether the motivation for change comes from a positive or negative influence we are up to the task and can adjust quickly to any situation.

Another lesson reinforced through the pandemic is that you need to be at your best when people need you the most. I look to our local health care providers as the high point of this lesson, as we all hunkered down and avoided people, they showed up each day and put themselves at mortal risk to deal head on with the harsh realities of COVID-19. Essentially being at their best when our community needed them most, to me, that is real leadership.

What are two or three of the best things about being a leader? If your desire to lead is primarily driven by a need to maximize personal or corporate profit, then you are missing the good stuff. A couple of my favorite rewards of being in a leadership position include:

  • Watching people grow and succeed as their confidence and expertise take them beyond their own expectations.
  • Supporting local entrepreneurs and seeing their dreams get realized through hard work and innovation.
  • The ability to inspire and make decisions that positively impact this great community in which we serve.