Gina Coleman, Vice President, Client & Community Relations Director with PNC Financial Services. It’s a title that suggests she knows business. And she does. The ins and outs of it. What is exceptional is her level of enthusiasm that’s consistent throughout her experiences. A preliminary phone interview reveals many things, including the differentiating factor to her success: She’s enamored by people, thrives off them. People she meets fall onto a scale of how much she has learned from them. Mentors, employees, coworkers, bosses—they all have something to share with her, and, as a result, she is always looking for ways she can be of service to them.
Gina proves that success is something one cultivates. And some other things too.
Detroitisit: What brought you to Detroit?
Gina Coleman: My husband is an ex-NBA player and was traded to the Detroit Pistons at the end of his career. Since Detroit was his hometown, we decided to stay after his retirement.
DII: Did you imagine this would be home for as long as it’s been?
GC: Actually, it felt like home from the start since we would come here during the summers and holidays to visit his family. What surprises me today is how fast the years go by. I do feel like a Detroiter!
DII: Where was home before Detroit?
GC: Paterson, New Jersey. I’m still a Jersey girl at heart. But Detroit has worked its way into it.
You’ve had a dynamic and diverse career from owning a spa and salon to your current position at PNC. What’s the thread that draws it all together? The core skillset you’ve honed throughout?
Relationship and brand building are key skill sets that have served me well in my career.
First time entrepreneurs—what advice do you have for them?
Have passion for your field of business, beyond making money. Entrepreneurs do not have a 9-5 schedule. You need to love what you do because the hours will feel like 24/7. Tackle the “administrative” part of your business. Get a separate business banking account, get a good accounting system, set up an advisory team with smart people that can mentor and assist you. And don’t forget about having a working business plan!
Tell us about your experience transitioning from a full-time business owner to working in the corporate world. Challenges? Advantages?
I’ve worked in corporate prior to being a full-time business owner, so I’ve come full circle. Working in corporate provides a nice sense of security, as it relates to benefits, and less stress of having everything fall on your shoulders. Those are the advantages. The challenge is accepting the fact that you work for someone else and their goals. And if the role at the company is limited and does not feed that “entrepreneurial’ spirit, it may begin to feel like a chore. I’m blessed that my current job has enough flexibility to feed my spirit.
What’s the most satisfying aspect of your work?
Delivering resources to the community. But I also love being able to help my fellow employees be successful in the market through helping to build the PNC brand by working with our clients.
If you could grant one wish for the City of Detroit, what would it be?
One is hard! Two come to mind right away. Increased investment in pre-k to 12 grade education and significantly lower car insurance rates.
Best advice for succeeding in business?
Don’t burn bridges; expand networks beyond your line-of-business silo; surround yourself with people smarter than you; and build your personal brand. In life? Be grateful; stretch beyond your comfort zone; value family and friendships; and remember self-care is absolutely necessary.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Read your emails twice before sending and make sure the tone is appropriate.
Characteristic you admire most in a person?
People who lack empathy for others.