“Follow the leaders that are respected, not just those who are liked.” -Dabney Zanders
Dabney Zanders, Investment Banking Associate in Leveraged Finance at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey in Atlanta, GA, can be described as focused and multi-faceted. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.A in Finance and minor in Economics from Morehouse College.
Graduating as the recession started was certainly a shock. Yet Dabney was able to find a job in New York at a top investment bank as a back office support analyst, which began his path towards investment banking. He recalls sitting on a trading floor for the first time as a junior analyst; the experience was awe inspiring. However, he also felt a sense of belonging, knowing that he had what it would take to survive. After two years of coffee, elevator and lobby chats, he finally received an analyst offer along with sponsorship for his securities licenses. After starting his career in investment banking in New York, Dabney moved back to Atlanta and has continued to advance.
Influential leaders in Dabney’s life include his father, fifth grade teacher, and high school soccer coach. Believe it or not Dabney describes himself as a child who needed discipline, which all of his mentors provided. Dabney’s father, a self-made entrepreneur taught him many lessons about business and life. His fifth grade teacher and soccer coach both took a special interest in him, helping him learn different tools necessary for success. Being a captain on his high school soccer team was one of Dabney’s first time leading. The experience taught him leaders should be conscious and controlled, because their actions largely contribute to team morale.
Whether on the soccer field or studying for class, Dabney was always taught to put maximum effort into every task. While Dabney’s leadership style has evolved, he still has the follow-by-example mentality he learned as a teenager. He wants those he leads to see him working hard, because that’s what he also expects of himself. Dabney also strives to know his team on a deeper level so that each individual feels connected as they work towards common goals.
The “preputial pursuit of perfection,” as Dabney calls it, motivates every aspect of his life. However, he tries not to have unrealistic expectations, knowing one can never fully arrive at perfection and failure can also be extremely beneficial. On the flip side, the advice Dabney would give his younger self is, “don’t take everything so seriously and live your life”. When Dabney takes a break from “the grind”, he enjoys creative loafing both at home and local restaurants and spending time with friends and family.
Dabney encourages future leaders to:
Always… be prepared to do anything you ask of someone else.
Never… take others for granted.
Follow… those that are respected.
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