Managing Money – Rick Shirtz, ’77

Rick Shirtz has climbed to the top of his profession. He’s a Regional President at NBT Bank overseeing commercial banking for 20 branches in Oswego, Onondaga and Madison counties. NBT, an $8 billion dollar institution, is headquartered in Norwich and has branches in six states. “I’m very fortunate to be where I am. I’ve had opportunities to go elsewhere but am very happy here,” said Shirtz.

Shirtz was the youngest of six children. He graduated from Bishop Ludden high school in 1975 and enrolled in OCC’s Criminal Justice major with dreams of becoming a New York State Trooper. As he examined career options he made the decision to change majors. “The education at OCC was very good and extremely flexible. I transitioned to Business Administration but was still able to graduate in two years.”

Shirtz transferred to Le Moyne College and pursued his four-year degree. In between going to class and studying he worked part-time as a loan adjustor at Key Bank. After graduating he went into Key Bank’s management training program and went to Syracuse University part time. Six years later he earned his master’s in business.

In the late 1980s Shirtz taught a couple of general banking courses at OCC, enjoyed the experience and hopes he can do it again some day. “I’d love the opportunity to return to OCC, teach again and do some career counseling when things slow down and I retire.”

Throughout Shirtz’s lengthy career he’s worked for all different types of managers and come up with own style. “I believe in leading by example. People need to see I’m working hard and getting things done on time.” He also favors an open door policy. “You have to be accessible to employees. If you aren’t you won’t be successful.”

Shirtz has advice for anyone considering a career in finance, and its transferrable to practically any career:
• Maintain flexibility
• Maintain contacts
• Be well rounded

Nearly 40 years after graduating from OCC, Shirtz remains a big believer in all of the opportunities at the College and offers a story from his own family as proof. “My oldest daughter transferred into OCC mid-year after her first semester at an out-of-town school that wasn’t a great “fit”. A year-and-a-half later she graduated, transferred to (SUNY) Cortland, got her master’s and is now a teacher in the Westhill School District. Everything she needed to start her college education was right here. She just had to go away to figure it out.”