Richard Bynum: A Career Following Opportunity and Creating Opportunity for Others

For much of his life, Richard Bynum has been on the move. Early in his career he figured out that “the best place to be is where they want you.” Today he is the President of PNC’s Greater Washington and Virginia operation, although it was a journey getting there. Mentors identified and nurtured his talents. He is now taking the lead in doing the same for other young people, helping to stand up a new apprenticeship pilot program (called CareerWise DC) where students will split time between high school and an employer.

Originally born in Detroit, his father’s job as an insurance salesman moved the family to San Francisco and then to St Petersburg, Florida where he graduated high school and attended Florida State University. He majored in political science and got his first gig in the early 1990s working on a local political campaign, but it wasn’t for him.

An opportunity opened up at the Red Cross, where he would spend the next decade. He traveled around the country doing disaster relief. His job was to fly in, set up the field operation and team, run the operation and eventually disassemble the operation. During that time, he led the disaster team at the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago, helping more than 1,000 families every year affected by home fires and local emergencies.  After 9/11, he was sent to Brooklyn to manage direct service delivery where he spent a lot of time signing checks and catching scammers.

While at business school at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, another opportunity appeared, which would usher in his second career—this time in banking. A headhunter contacted him, saying a small mid-Atlantic bank had plans for expansion and was looking to hire more managers. A representative flew in from Pittsburgh and made him an offer. That he had no prior experience in banking was not a problem. They would teach him the ropes.

At PNC headquarters in Pittsburgh, he was an organizational problem-solver. He worked as kind of an internal consultant, going from unit to unit to kick their operations up a notch. When PNC merged with National City Bank, doubling in size, Richard led the effort to stitch together the operations. For his next move, Richard wanted to do more customer-facing work.

In 2010, an opportunity presented itself in Washington, DC under former regional PNC president and former FC2 Trustee Mike Harreld. Richard ran retail and a small business group here, but was called back to Pittsburgh to run all of PNC’s small business division. He commuted from DC to Pittsburgh every week for three years to get the job done. Then in 2017, Mike Harreld retired and Richard Bynum took over the regional greater Washington team.

Mike taught him the importance of understanding the DC business network and PNC’s role in serving the wider community’s needs. Richard is involved with Leadership Greater Washington, the DC Chamber, the Board of Trade and is among the most active FC2 Trustees, particularly in driving workforce development initiatives like the apprenticeship program. He puts in the time, joins the conference calls and moderates events.

He took up the cause of improving the region’s talent pipeline from conversations with his clients and business network. Lack of access to capital or markets was not their main challenge—it was attracting and retaining good workers. With Amazon moving in, the competition for regional talent will grow more fierce. Plenty of DC residents could fill those jobs if they were trained for them, and it’s best to train them early. CareerWise DC will give young people more opportunities now, and will set companies up to having the talent they need in the long run.

Helping young people navigate the labor market is somewhat of a family business. His wife Evelyn is a career counselor for college students at George Washington University. And outside of work, Richard is similarly interested in networks and his place within the broader fabric of society; one of his hobbies is studying his family’s genealogy.

Richard has much to be proud of. He’s come a long way, had two careers and continues to expand PNC’s reach in the Washington region and beyond. He’s thrown himself into serving his community. This year marks another milestone—it’s the longest he’s ever lived in one place. He says the DMV is home.