SFNet 2020 President John DePledge Reflects on an Unprecedented Year

By Michele Ocejo


John DePledge, head of Asset Based Lending at Bank Leumi USA, discusses his tenure as SFNet president and COVID’s impact on plans.

TSL: In your interview last year, you mentioned NextGen issues would be one of your priorities. Could you comment on what SFNet has been doing to help promote the interests of future leaders?

John DePledge: I’ve had the good fortune to have worked for various mentors who were quite generous with their time and knowledge. My feeling is that it is incumbent for me to also pass along my knowledge base to others so they can reap the vast dividends the ABL industry has to offer. While Rich Gumbrecht and I intended to travel to various YoPro events organized by our numerous Chapters, COVID-19 altered those plans. However, all was not lost. We continued forward with our prestigious award program, 40 Under 40. There continues to be great interest in this program and the 2020 Class will accompany the 2021 Class in a joint celebration. Although we aren’t able to celebrate in person this year, we have found other ways to honor this year’s recipients. In addition to their profiles being featured in the September issue of The Secured Lender, we are publishing congratulatory videos from the judges and nominators as well as “acceptance” videos from the winners.

Also, we have been gearing many educational events for all constituents including our YoPro community. We introduced a new three-day “Impactful Leadership for Secured Finance Professionals” in which a number of 40 Under 40 winners and nominees participated and gave great feedback. In the spirit of PT Barnum, “the show must go on,” and SFNet hosted the annual YoPro Leadership Summit once again in August. Over 150 young professionals as well as more-senior executives, gathered virtually to discuss “Succeeding in the New Environment.” The event received a net promoter score of 60 (over 50 is considered “world class”). This event, coupled with the Women in Secured Finance Conference in July, which also scored over 50, demonstrate the ability to create dynamic and interactive virtual events. I’m looking forward to the live online Annual Convention in November, which will offer more panels than any live event. This online event will certainly have something for everyone, from those just starting out in the industry to seasoned executives.

What accomplishment over the last year are you most proud of?

Providing steady, unemotional, unbiased advice during a difficult period. I’m particularly proud to be a sounding board for our CEO, Rich Gumbrecht.

Also, this summer marked a significant milestone: our one-year anniversary as SFNet. Our new name and visual identity better reflect the diverse community we are today. SFNet is inclusive and as relevant as ever, while still respecting our heritage. We haven’t missed a beat with the transition and I think the work we’ve accomplished over the past year demonstrates this.

Both your tenure as president and your first year with Leumi coincided with the ongoing pandemic. How did COVID-19 effect both of your roles?

After close to four decades in the secured finance industry and living through many economic cycles, one would expect to have experienced all challenges. However, COVID-19 is very different due to the unprecedented ramifications we are currently experiencing and will experience in the future.

Both roles require additional time and careful thought to overcome unique circumstances.

On the SFNet front, the team has doubled down on the necessary creativity and has the complete support of the volunteers on the Management & Executive Committees. This collaborative, intertwined group of individuals provide great results for our community.

On the Leumi Business Credit front, we are in the early innings of the ballgame and have built out a solid foundation of clients, ABL professionals as well as a superior control environment.

What are your goals going forward in your role at Leumi?

We developed a multi-year plan pre-COVID-19 and are not wavering from it. This includes loan growth, staff additions, system enhancements, etc.

The Leumi Business Credit team is very focused on asset quality as well as asset growth. We enjoy accolades from our risk organization for the disciplined approach we take with our clients and are aligned on balanced growth.

Any advice for incoming president, Jeff Goldrich?

First and foremost, Jeff is well prepared to serve as the president of SFNet, having served on many committees over the years such as the Investment, Finance, Executive and Management committees. In addition, Jeff has led the formation and growth of many lending businesses over his career.

My advice is to continue to embrace the creativity and forward thinking of the excellent SFNet team and the industry volunteers. The symmetry and collaboration between these people make our network vibrant, flexible and poised to take on new adventures that confront us. Time goes by way too fast, so have fun and enjoy your time as president of SFNet.



About the Author

Michele Ocejo
Michele Ocejo is director of communications for the Secured Finance Network and editor-in-chief of The Secured Lender.