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Serving the Community One Citizen at a Time

October 8, 2014

by Victoria Addison

For assistant branch manager Michael Van Guysling, his job at Citizen’s Bank is about more than just the money.

“It’s the people around here, and it might be just the fact that this particular branch has been here for so long, and it’s not a transient branch,” said Van Guysling, 46.  “It’s a home branch for a lot of people as opposed to let’s say a branch at a grocery store where you might just go in to do quick transactions.”

An Albany native, Van Guysling’s father grew up a block away from the neighborhood branch at Western Avenue and West Lawrence Street.  Van Guysling has worked for  Citizen’s since December 2012.

Assistant Branch Manager Michael Van Guysling at Citizen’s Bank on Western Avenue/Victoria Addison

Assistant Branch Manager Michael Van Guysling at Citizen’s Bank on Western Avenue/Victoria Addison

Despite his love for his job at Citizen’s, Van Guysling did not plan on becoming an assistant branch manager. Before his almost 12 year involvement in the banking field, Van Guysling was focused on sustaining a career in hotel and restaurant management. His first job in the restaurant business was scooping ice cream at Friendly’s on Western Avenue, which is now closed.

Van Guysling attended Johnson & Wales University in Providence, a school dedicated primarily to culinary arts and hotel and restaurant management, after he graduated from Guilderland High School.  Throughout college, he worked as a bus boy and room service waiter at the Holiday Inn in downtown Providence. He was eventually promoted to dining room manager by the time he graduated.

“The University made it very conducive to work because they only had classes Monday through Thursday, so everybody had a three day weekend,” said Van Guysling, “The expectation was you would try to go out into your field, whatever it might be, to be able to put forth what you are learning in a true environment.”

Eventually, the long hours in with the hotel business became too much for Van Guysling’s liking.

“Hotels never close. As a manager, you are constantly on duty and it was very draining and difficult from a family standpoint at times,” he said. Van Guysling was on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which meant he also had to work on the holidays.

When an opportunity came up in the banking industry, Van Guysling took a chance and accepted a position with CitiFinancial, a finance company that handles personal and home equity loans. After about 10 years with the company, he decided to move onto a more traditional style of banking at Citizen’s.

Now, his favorite part of the assistant branch manager job is the people he deals with, both customers and co-workers.

“It’s all about helping people,” said Van Guysling, “I enjoy working with them and I deal well with them.”

His coworkers are equally fond of him, including branch manager Brian White, who enjoys his open and honest conversations with Van Guysling.

“Mike finds ways to make it fun, but still gets the job done,” said Erin Brown, a bank teller.

Van Guysling hopes to stay with Citizen’s until he retires, at which point he has a personal dream that involves his favorite hobby outside of work.

“I would love to be able to, in all honesty, run a comic book shop. I have an inner geek even at my age,” said Van Guysling, who most enjoys the animation aspect of the comics.

For now, he focuses on helping his customers every day.

Van Guysling is involved with working on institutional relationships, including with both Shop Rite and The College of Saint Rose.

“I love going to orientations, whether it be like ShopRite’s employee orientations or stuff for you guys at school,” he said, “That’s really cool because it helps develop the relationships and begins to earn their trust, it’s constantly ongoing.”

From his desk looking out on Western Avenue, he has a good view of the neighborhood.

“If you sit here for a half hour with me you’ll hear, ‘Hi mike, how are you doing?,” he said. “You know, it is that kind of thing.”– 30 –

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