One of the pleasures of being publisher/editor is that I get to meet some fascinating people. One of these is Spiros (Jerry) Voutsinas, who rose from being alone in America at 19 years of age – arriving here in a different environment than the one he was accustomed to – to become the president of Atlantic Bank, a division of New York Community Bank.. His journey is a true Horatio Alger success story I’d like to share with you.
Having grown up in New York and living my life here I am in awe of people who have had the courage to pick up and travel across the ocean, with language limitations, and make their way to success. For Mr. Voutsinas leaving his childhood home in Kefalonia, Greece, was an achingly hard choice. But even as a young man he knew he wanted to do better.
As soon as he came to America he enrolled in college and got a degree in Accounting. That led to his first job at Harlem Savings Bank in Washington Heights, where he worked part time to finance his education. It was to be his “home” for decades and Mr. Voutsinas is proud to have been responsible for the success of this Bank, which he renamed Apple Bank Savings Bank in 1984 when he took it public. In addition to being a top executive, Mr. Voutsinas was also a director of that Institution until it was sold to an investor in 1989.
Mr. Voutsinas has been a director of five banks, a director of a finance company, a director of the Foreign Policy Association and a trustee of a charitable organization. After serving on the Board of New York Community Bank, President Joe Ficalora tapped him to run Atlantic Bank when it was acquired.
He shared with me how his journey hasn’t been easy, and that the love and support of his family helped, but without hard work nothing is possible. He has created a strong bond between the bank and the Greek community and welcomes business from everyone.
“My involvement with the Greek community is strong and the people are highly educated and very prosperous,” he shared.
I remember when I asked my Nobel Prize winning cousin what he attributed his success to; he remarked it took 98 percent perspiration and two percent inspiration. I felt that was Mr. Voutsinas’ philosophy, too. When I asked him what his hobbies are he laughed and said, “Mostly my work.”
In an interview with the Greek magazine Polis, he honestly remarked when asked if luck played a role in his career. “No, I believe 80 percent of your luck is attributed to your own doing,” he said. “Of course, the remaining percentage of luck is outside your control.”
I think the community is lucky to have a man of his integrity, knowledge and commitment in successfully leading Atlantic Bank’s journey in these challenging times.