Michael Miller Takes The Helm While Former CEO Jane Netherton Now ‘Working Board Chair’
Joshua Silavent - Staff Writer
January 15, 2013 – Though Jane Netherton has left her post as president and CEO of Long Beach-based International City Bank (ICB) after more than 26 years on the job, she is anything but retired.
“I’m not going to sit on the couch and eat bonbons,” Netherton told the Business Journal in late December as she prepared to hand the reins of the bank to Michael Miller, formerly ICB’s executive vice president and chief credit officer.
Netherton has now assumed the chairmanship of the bank’s board of directors, with previous chair James J. Sullos graciously moving to the vice-chair role. She wants to make it clear that despite a changing of the guard, ICB retains the same philosophy, products and services that has guided it since its founding in 1984. “Nothing’s changing,” she said. “We’re not going to be any different than we were. You don’t change something that’s working.”
International City Bank’s Jane Netherton and Michael Miller
have worked together for years, making the recent leadership transition
at the bank seamless. Miller took over as president and CEO at the beginning of the year
and Netherton, who held the top post for 26 years, is now the chair of the bank’s board of directors.
(Photograph by the Business Journal’s Thomas McConville)
Because Netherton and Miller have worked closely for a number of years, the leadership transition has been seamless. Miller re-joined ICB in 2009 after a brief absence, and has long been a crucial confidante and key player in the bank’s operational decisions. “We have run the bank as a team,” Netherton said. “I feel great about the way the transition has been handled.”
Furthermore, ICB’s foundation is strong as a truly community-oriented bank, leaving little appetite for a “culture change.” Sure, it has individual accounts, but ICB doesn’t market itself as a retail service. Rather, the bank focuses on small- to mid-size businesses, be they restaurants, service industry companies or mom-and-pop shops, for example. “We look at the client and what the potential is,” Netherton said.
This focus has allowed ICB to weather the banking crisis and economic downturn – no loosening of credit standards meant no need for a government bailout. Of course, the bank had to scale back as the recession took hold, with challenges confronting its loan portfolio. “Whether it was here or anywhere else, the banking industry got hit pretty hard,” Miller said. But recovery has occurred and moderate growth is expected over the next three years. The lesson, he added, is that banks like ICB must diversify their portfolios in order to retain a competitive advantage.
Regardless of the fact that ICB is in good hands with Miller, the departure of Netherton is noticeable, particularly given that she is not the pencil-pushing type. “I’m kind of an unusual CEO because I’m very hands on . . . because of my background in operations,” she said.
This pro-active approach reflects Netherton’s personality. She’s simply a go-getter. She’s also a people-person, always game to mix it up with the crowd. And at times she is animated and breathless when talking about her passions – like ICB. Rather than being simply a place of employment, the bank has been like a second home to Netherton, a place she can’t just walk away from. That explains why she describes her new role as a “working chair.”
Netherton said she would remain engaged with her own clients and plans to visit their businesses personally. Moreover, “Hopefully, I can continue to bring business in,” she said.
Of course, Netherton’s new role also frees up time for her other pursuits and interests. A stalwart in Long Beach for three decades, Netherton is a trusted ally and constant presence in the community. She has been called on to serve as chair of a number of boards of directors and never seems to refuse an opportunity. She is the founding chair of the Conservation Corps of Long Beach, headed the city’s redevelopment agency before it was dissolved last year and now chairs the oversight board of the successor agency, and continues to serve on the board of the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, among other commitments.
Netherton is especially dedicated to her work on the board of directors of the Special Olympics Southern California, and she plans to increase her time commitment to the organization now that she no longer runs the day-to-day operations at ICB.
Still, the transition has been somewhat bittersweet, Netherton admitted. She’s been feeling something similar to the empty-nest syndrome parents face when their children head off to college. “I feel like I’m too young to be doing this,” she said.