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Volume 21 No. 1
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Spotlight: John Hondros, SunTrust Banks

From zero to 500: Hondros expands sports role at SunTrust

Starting with his first job counting coins, there was little doubt John Hondros had a future in the banking industry. After helping create the motorsports division for SunTrust Banks, Hondros now hopes to lead the bank into new sports ventures as senior vice president and managing director of the sports and entertainment group. Hondros spoke with staff writer Bryan Ives.

Age: 46
New title: Senior vice president, managing director of sports and entertainment group, SunTrust Banks
Previous title: Market manager and client adviser, SunTrust Banks
First job: “My grandfather owned a vending company, and he offered me a job sitting in the company’s vault counting coins, so clearly I was supposed to have a banking career.”
College education: Public administration major, business administration minor, Elon University, 1997.
Resides: Cornelius, N.C., with wife Brooke, two boys ages 9 and 7, and two golden retrievers.
Grew up: Winston-Salem, N.C.
Executive most admired: “The first bank I worked for had a CEO who told me that success at home had a direct impact on success in the workplace, and I’ve never forgotten those words.”
Brand most admired: Krispy Kreme
Favorite vacation spot: Harbor Island, Bahamas
Last book read: “The Energy Bus,” by Jon Gordon
Last movie seen: “Captain Phillips”
Favorite movie: “Wedding Crashers”
Favorite musician/band: “Edwin McCain. He actually played at our wedding 12 years ago.”

What will be the biggest challenge in your new position?
At SunTrust our mission is to help light the way to financial well-being for clients, and in the case of professional athletes that means helping them spend and invest their money wisely. In many cases their careers are much shorter than it would be in other industries.

What is the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career?
Starting the motorsports group for SunTrust was a huge risk because the niche had not yet been carved out. This was uncharted territory, and we weren’t sure if the motorsports community would respond with open arms. It’s also moving from Winston-Salem to Charlotte. While this wasn’t a big geographic move, I was moving from all I knew, all of my family, friends and a very comfortable working environment, and my wife was four months pregnant with our first child. I’ll never forget that. However, we did achieve amazing success, and I’m proud of where the motorsports group is right now and what we’ve accomplished on behalf of our clients.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
Organically growing the motorsports group from zero to 500 private wealth clients allowed me to broaden our reach beyond motorsports and assist individuals in various sports and entertainment categories. Just as important to me is my clients trust me.

What is your biggest professional disappointment?
I was recruited and mentored by Brian Williams, who created the SunTrust sports and entertainment group. Unfortunately Brian died two years after hiring me. While I know he’d be proud of our group and our growth, I’m certain we would’ve forged many new paths at SunTrust. He was an incredible asset.

What career advice do you have for people wanting to get into the sports industry?
Keep up with the latest developments and trends as it relates to your career interests and don’t lose sight of history and what it took to build a specific sport or entity within the sport.

What is the one element you would like to see changed about the sports industry?
A serious cut in the cost of racing combined with a few rule changes so more teams and team owners could survive. I think it’d be good for the sport. I would say start with the engines. I know there is already a lot of focus on the issue.