An interview with Dorothy Savarese, CEO of Cape Cod Five

CEO of the Cape's second-oldest bank on its relationship with the Cape Cod community

Interview by John Foster

Cape Cod Today met with DorothySavarese, President and CEO of The Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank to discuss the Bank's partnership role with its shareholders,employees and the larger community, including its work with the CapeCod Chamber of Commerce. In June, Ms. Savarese was named Chairman ofthe Board at the Cape Cod Chamber's annual meeting. The Cape CodFive is the Cape's second-oldest and largest independent bank.

Cape Cod Today: Congratulations on your new appointment. We see that the Cape CodFive and the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce work closely together.

Dorothy Savarese. Photo courtesy of Cape Cod Five.

Dorothy Savarese: Yes! Both the Cape Cod Five and the Chamber are committed to thestrengthening the economic viability and improving the lives of CapeCod residents. For the Chamber, right now, our top four prioritiesare public policy; strategic economic planning; the Visitors' Bureauand Member Services. Our four 'key areas' are Water,including drinking water, beaches and tourism; Transportation;Environmental and Economic Development.

CCT: It's hard to missthe new storm drains and sewer mains being installed everywhere fromBarnstable District Court to Route 28 in Chatham.

Savarese: TheConservation Law Foundation (CLF) lawsuit has proved a real stimulusto answers. The CLF's suit contends EPA has not adequatelyprotected Cape waterways from nitrogen discharge. Whatever one'sopinion of the merits of their argument, the suit has brought a lotof those concerns to the fore.

CCT: Tell us about 'OpenCape.'

Savarese: This is a newfiber optic "backbone" network, scheduled to begindeployment in 2013, that we hope will become a driver of our economicgrowth. We'll be planning for a diversified, clean, 'light'commercial environment. We expect the Cape's employee profile willremain mostly seasonal, with fewer salaried employees but more andmore telecommuters. We look to an increased number of decentralized,Net-based firms, 'clean' institutions to provide new jobs. We'd liketo leverage the scientific talent already here, for example inaquaculture, to attract talented professionals who appreciate theCape's high quality-of-life.

CCT: Can you give us anexample of this type of firm?

Savarese: BackOfficeAssociates. Their world headquarters is in South Harwich. They arerelatively new to the Cape, and provide high value-added jobs.

CCT: Because it'sbroadband fiber, Open Cape could carry an almost unlimited amount ofdata, constrained only by the electronics at both ends. What groupsare involved in planning for putting Open Cape to its best use? It'sfeasible that so much capacity could be used to deliver more robustdata service to commercial and retail customers, even digital cabletelevision.

Savarese: Dan Gallagheris the CEO of OpenCape Corporation, and the expert on planning. Anumber of other groups are involved ... besides the Chamber, we havethe Cape Cod Compact and the Tech Council. OpenCape uses a 'ring'topology. It will first serve government, educational, science andresearch needs, but retail will figure in the mix. Right now we'relooking at improved government and environmental efficiencies. OpenCape could be used to monitor wastewater management in real time.

CCT: How aboutleveraging military uses?

Savarese: Yes, perhapsOtis Air Base Cape Cod. - The Chamber may be able to work offconnections we already know will be built, to create revenueopportunities as well as services, and infrastructure for businessneeds.

CCT: We hear the Cape CodFive just passed $2B in assets. That's quite an achievement,especially given the volatility of recent years.

Savarese: Yes, and ofthat $2B, $200M is capital. The Cape Cod Five holds the mortgage onabout one in five homes on Cape Cod. I feel privileged to have thisjob. One hundred fifty years of community service! --we have thebest management, employees and the best shared commitment torelationship-focused community service. We have a presence in allfifteen Cape Cod towns, and now Nantucket also.

CCT: We know practicallyevery Cape Cod home has one of your calendars!

Savarese: Do you know,my Chief Operating Officer and I personally select each photo? Wetry to represent every town we serve. Our thought is to get outahead of community needs, and determine alternative means of servingthem. We've avoided certain investments based on our long-termperspectives and values: integrity, fairness, and commitment. As a result our balance sheet is healthy. We have a strong capitalstructure. We have $700M on the trust and asset management side. Westarted that business from scratch eight years ago. That's atestimonial to the strength of the relationship we have with CapeCod.

CCT: What do you see asthe Cape Cod Five brand?

Savarese: In addition toour core principles of integrity, fairness, and commitment, ouremployees are the Cape Cod Five brand. They adhere to the values ofour organization, and keep their focus on service at the personallevel, be it a young couple just starting out or people planning fortheir retirement. We make it our job to know and take care of ourcustomers' needs, but we don't let any one set of needs obscureour commitment to the base. Our flawless execution is what sets usapart from other banks and is a key part of the CC5 brand. CC5tellers love to hear what's going on in your life - just so longas the line stays short. Along with our customers, the commitment tothe community is a key part of the Cape Cod Five brand. Thisincludes sponsorship of local events by the Bank, support for variousnon-profits from the Bank's foundation, and volunteerism from theBank's employees.

CCT: In closing, what doyou see as the #1 challenge facing Cape Cod's economic future?

Savarese: We are losingour young people. The latest Census data confirm what a look aroundany restaurant or beach this summer could have told you. In the pastten years, the Cape has lost almost 18% of adults ages 25 to 34, andalmost one-third of those 35 to 44! This is a disturbing trend,and one the Chamber has been working to slow down.

CCT: Ms. Savarese, ofcourse we wish you every success in that effort and thank you.

Savarese: Thank you. welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on