Starting from Scratch
It was 2014 and Tom Regnante was sitting alone in his office at JP Morgan Chase & Co. in Baltimore. He wasn’t alone because his co-workers were on vacation or out sick. He was flying solo because he was the only person on the payroll.
The firm had been doing business in the Washington, DC area since 1999 but Tom was the first one to kickstart an on the ground presence for Chase in Baltimore.
It was a pleasant surprise, therefore, to get a visit from Eddie Resende of the World Trade Center Institute (WTCI) when Tom was just a few months into the job. At the time, Eddie was the director of strategic planning and product development at the organization (he is now the CEO). Eddie had heard that Chase was trying to establish a presence in Maryland, and he wanted to help pave the way for Tom to do so.
Tom was all ears. The New York native was new to Maryland, so he didn’t know many people. But he knew he had to build a professional network to reach his business goals. He instantly saw the value WTCI could provide to his company – initially, in the form of events where he could meet other business leaders from across the state.
“What was so unique about WTCI is that it was reaching out everywhere in Maryland, not just in Baltimore,” says Tom, whose company became a WTCI member shortly after the visit with Eddie. “And it was reaching out to international companies. That’s what I was trying to do too.”
As the Chase operation in Maryland has grown to 345 staff, 25 branches, and 122 ATMs – and the focus has expanded to include private banking and retail – so has Tom’s involvement in WTCI.
Tom has been a panelist at WTCI’s annual State of the Ports event, been on the selection committee of the organization’s annual Maryland International Business Leadership Awards for several years, attended the AGILE Innovation Series, and most recently, Chase was the lead sponsor of WTCI’s first-ever Albrecht Fellowship fundraiser. He sees all of these events as opportunities to highlight his company and give back to the business community in the region so people and organizations within it can grow.
He also sees WTCI events as opportunities for him to grow as a leader. One, in particular, that stands out to him is the 2019 leadership awards ceremony at the American Visionary Art Museum. It is an annual event Tom has always loved. As he says, “Each award winner tells a unique story. Their optimism is contagious.”
Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson was no exception. Tom recalls that, in his award acceptance speech in 2019, the CEO spoke about the need for people to treat each other with respect and dignity. And he noted that Marriott is successful, in large part, due to his employees following this credo.
“When you hear something like that from a world class champion, you remember how important it is to live like that every day,” Tom says.
Tom also recalls how honored he was to meet Arne one-on-one after the speech – an intimate opportunity about all WTCI events that Tom appreciates. Arne was diagnosed with cancer the next month and died two years later, making the moment even more memorable.
Tom is also thankful he had the chance to get to know Jhpiego CEO Leslie Mancuso after she won a leadership award from WTCI in 2022. Jhpiego is a global nonprofit organization that helps bring lifesaving care to communities that need it the most. It was not until her speech that Tom fully understood the depth of Jhpiego’s work and Leslie’s power as a leader. Their budding working relationship has included discussing everything from the latest business insights to debating the best Italian restaurants (they are both Italian and live near Little Italy in Baltimore).
Since that day in 2014 when he was sitting alone in his office, Tom has been introduced to a lot of organizations that help him expand his professional network. WTCI, though, holds a special place in his heart.
“I get introduced to many associations,” he says. “But I feel WTCI is the best one in the state of Maryland. They work so hard to reach out to business leaders who are globally minded. I am happy to be part of it.”