In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Regions Bank is celebrating associates, nonprofits and business owners who make a powerful difference in the communities they serve. Here, meet Victor Avila, whose life experience drives his passion for service.
Like many, Victor Avila is working from home most days. But his focus remains in the community.
A Tampa-based community development manager for Regions Bank, Avila never stops searching for answers. How can Regions make a greater impact? How can we build relationships with nonprofits, businesses or other organizations to help more people prosper?
He finds answers to those questions all the time. But he keeps asking, too. Because there’s always more to do.
The team from Doing More Today spoke with Avila to learn more about his background – and how that shapes the work he does today.
Share with us your journey over time. What have you learned along the way? What do you tell others who are looking to succeed?
I learned that I could not have done it alone, and I’m extremely thankful to everyone who has helped me along the way.
My journey was unconventional to say the least. My family and I migrated to the United States in 1991. I was born and raised in Lima, Peru. We had to leave because of terrorism. We left a small business and most of our family and came to the United States looking for a new beginning not knowing when we would be able to return or see anyone again.
Many years went by, and unfortunately, some of our family in Peru passed away, and we were not able to go see them. We were undocumented for many years; therefore, traveling was not an option. During these hard times, we faced many challenges, but we faced them together. My parents are huge advocates of education and certainly believe that by working hard, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. The four of us went to school to learn the language and continued to higher education.
Thirty years later, I’m extremely proud of my family’s achievements as my dad retired from the city where he later worked, and Mom has a successful career with the IRS. My older brother is a senior leader in a Fortune 500 company and has been there for over 20 years, and I have been in finance for many years.
We all define success differently, and what I tell others is to first, look at their priorities and what really matters to them. Then look at what they want to accomplish and create short- and long-term goals. Have a support system and a plan of action. Utilize your resources, and never hesitate to ask for help. Be disciplined and focused, and you will succeed.
Learn from your mistakes, be humble, and on your road to success, never lose your human factor.
You shared how different members of the family define success differently. How do you define success in your role as a community development manager for Regions?
In my capacity, I see the struggles that low-income communities face on a daily basis. I’m able to indirectly make an impact through strategic community partnerships with organizations that are helping those in need. By community partnerships, what we mean is we don’t just support an organization through, say, donations or sharing our financial expertise. Rather, we work closely with them to achieve real, measurable outcomes. We are not sponsors in name only. We ensure there is clear accountability and that our community partners and the bank itself are creating the positive change we seek to inspire.
To me, success is defined as a sense of gratitude, fulfillment and joy. Our work brings that. But what brings it even more is my family.
Regions prioritizes support for education and workforce readiness, community and economic development, and financial wellness. How does your role support these objectives? What is the personal impact you see as a result of these priorities?
One of the biggest personal impacts I have seen is a common bond that I think all of us have: a desire to continually better ourselves and uplift others as they ascend.
No matter who we are, where we’re from, or what we do, we all want to be valued. We all want the opportunity for ourselves and our families to prosper. When I’m able to work with an organization that’s reaching people who are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic … or when we support a nonprofit that’s empowering people with career-development skills … the impact is deeply personal. It means an individual, a family, or a local business owner has greater access to success.
You’re also involved in the community on a personal level. What roles do you serve, and what is the most rewarding aspect of connecting with people and helping them succeed?
I see it as my responsibility to give back. I serve on nonprofit boards. I’m a boxing coach for the Tampa Police Athletic League. And my wife and I were able to establish a scholarship fund in coordination with the University of South Florida Foundation. The scholarship’s purpose is to help students who are undocumented achieve their dreams.
The most rewarding aspect of connecting with people is when I share my story. When they no longer see me as a banker – but as someone who speaks their language, understands their struggles firsthand, and ultimately as someone who knows how and where to find resources that they may need to succeed – that’s where I find the greatest reward.
How has the pandemic impacted your ability to serve others?
The biggest impact has been on my ability to volunteer in person. But the good news is how technology enables us to move community partnerships forward while exploring opportunities for the betterment of others.
What’s the message you would share for those who may be wondering if there are ways to serve others during this time of social distancing?
I think it’s simple, and it all depends on what you are passionate about as there is always someone in need of help. In this new normal, we have been able to adapt to technology, and many organizations have positively embraced the changes and have many avenues in which we can continue to virtually serve. Feel free to reach out to me, and I will gladly guide you to the organization whose mission aligns with yours.
What do you see as the greatest unmet need that, through your professional and personal roles, you can help address?
We are living through the uncertainty of the worst pandemic in my lifetime, and we are facing times of economic disparity, racial injustice and civil unrest. More than ever, it is not only time to support each other, but encourage greatness. I hope that through my network, I can continue to address the need for investments in education.
Let’s be civil and inspire human decency.