Juan Esterripa is always on the move, propelled by an almost nervous energy. A phone is almost always on his ear. If not, he’s texting a client, prospect, or employee. Or he might be pacing the halls at the office, pressing the flesh, and making sure his deals are moving along.
Inertia is strong with him. He never seems to stop—driven by a passion for deal making and taking care of his clients.
“I have known Juan for almost fifteen years and his approach to banking relationship never focused on rates and ratios; it’s about understanding the business and developing the relationship,” says Shaul Zislin of SurfStyle. “Now that he is with CNB, he has the ability to really focus on these two matrices as it is shared by the bank as a strategy.”
His road to head corporate banking at City National Bank, Florida’s third-largest bank, was long and required that level of determination. His is the story of an immigrant who came to this country and clawed his way up.
“I realized early on that if I was going to make something of myself, I had to be willing to work harder than the next guy,” he says. “There’s no shortage of talent, so you have to be willing to do more, to have the drive and determination, and to put in the hours to get what you want out of life.”
For Esterripa, City National’s executive vice president of corporate banking, success also comes with responsibility to his family, community, and younger bankers he’s taken under his wing.
“It’s not about what you can put in your pocket; it’s about being a good person,” he says. “That’s number one. Then comes taking care of your family and community. Everything else falls in place. What I enjoy most is being able to shape that younger generation; to give them that perspective in life.”
Esterripa originally hails from Peru, where his father’s work in the tourism industry served the family quite well until the early 1980s. That’s when The Shining Path—a Maoist guerilla group that Esterripa describes as a violent terrorist organization—created instability within the country, consequently derailing tourism. His family made their way to a new life in the United States, with Miami replacing Cusco as home just before Esterripa turned thirteen.
It didn’t take long for him to develop a strong work ethic all his own. At age fourteen, he was bussing tables at Miami restaurants, which led to waiting tables, which led to restaurant management. When he felt he’d had his fill of the restaurant industry, he tried his hand at retail—often working two or three different jobs at a time by his late teens, no matter what industry he was in. “Yes, I was put in a different situation that was more challenging,” Esterripa says of his early days in the United States. “But that allowed me to step up to the plate, not feel sorry for myself, but instead say, ‘This is just what needs to be done.’”
His efforts in retail carried him to the management side once again; he was running stores for The Limited. Soon after, he was approached about an opportunity in banking. “There was a strategy for banking to do a lot of recruiting from retail because—I hate to say it—retail workers had a better work ethic,” Esterripa jokes, noting retail’s need for people in evening and weekend capacities as well as more traditional hours.
A stint doing collections for CitiBank in the early 1990s had already provided him a taste of the world of finance, so he went ahead with the series of interviews necessary to get into the management associate program at NationsBank, which later became Bank of America. With an eye on commercial banking, Esterripa spent more than two decades rising through the ranks at Florida financial institutions before joining CNB in 2016.
Some of those institutions were considerably larger than CNB, which might make his decision seem counterintuitive to some. Esterripa sees CNB—which has more $14 billion in assets—as both large enough and small enough to tend to the most important needs of its clientele. “What’s unique here is that we’re nimble. We can provide some of the same solutions as other banks, but we can customize them better to the clients,” he explains. “It’s exemplary, and that’s where I feel we can make a big difference.”
Since joining the bank, he’s taken on new responsibilities. He’s now responsible for the bank’s Tampa and Orlando markets, and he helped create a new department within the corporate banking division that handles the specialized financial needs of government, institutional, and nonprofit entities.
Esterripa is also a champion of community, something that also attracted him to City National Bank. The seventy-two-year-old bank has a long history of supporting the needs of the communities it serves, from programs for affordable housing and small business to supporting a host of charities and initiatives, particularly those that focus on educational access and opportunity, development of children, and culture.
The bank also finds itself routinely expanding and redefining community involvement. It springs into action in times of crisis, whether that means raising money to help the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting, helping employees impacted by Hurricane Irma, or sending volunteers to help sort relief supplies for Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
“After the Pulse Nightclub Shooting, we decided we wanted to send a message as well as financial support,” says CNB’s director of marketing, Eddie Dominguez. “So, we invited every employee to participate in a day of solidarity with Orlando, which included every employee wearing a CNB branded Orlando Strong shirt and a dollar-for-dollar match for any contribution made by our team to the Orlando Fund.”
Dominguez, who also oversees the bank’s community engagement, says he can always count on Esterripa to support any community initiative.
“From a corporate standpoint, it’s usually not that difficult to write a check,” Esterripa says. “But it’s the engagement of all the employees and the understanding that our communities are so critical to our success that makes CNB stand out. Likewise, we did what we could to help our employees’ homes and families—we always do it—because we care. That’s it. We don’t say it as a punch line: we do it, we live by it, and we deliver it every day.”
Esterripa also has his personal causes, too. He’s been involved with Our Pride Academy, which helps kids with severe autism, and the March of Dimes, among other causes.
It’s his employer’s engagement, however, in which he takes the most pride. “Everything starts with family, friends, and community; right? The same holds true for City National, and that’s the reason I’m here and why I’m happy here,” he says. “They have the same values, and I’m very appreciative of that.”
Greenberg Traurig is proud to work with business leaders like Juan Esterripa who make an impact in South Florida’s economic growth. Juan has a wealth of banking knowledge that allows him to understand the important role that corporate banking plays on our business community and the stability of our region.