Indiana 250: Rafael Sanchez

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(Photo courtesy of Rafael Sanchez)

As Old National Bank’s chief impact officer, Rafael Sanchez is charged with leading initiatives focused on the financial advancement of underrepresented communities. As market president, Sanchez is responsible for developing growth, talent, community engagement, and public and governmental relations in central Indiana. He is co-chair of the Indianapolis 2024 NBA All-Star Game, president of the Crossroads BSA Council and director of the Community Health Network board. He is also secretary of the Indy Championship Fund, immediate past chair of the United Way of Central Indiana and immediate past chair of Indiana Latino Institute.

First job

My very first job was being a newspaper courier in my hometown in San Juan, Puerto Rico. No, I didn’t do the route on a bike—I used my car. But it was a 400-home route and roughly would take 1-1/2 hours to complete. As a 16-year old, I had to wake up at 4:30 a.m. every morning (even on the weekends) in order to make sure the paper was delivered early enough for customers to enjoy before going to work.

Favorite thing about being a leader

I think it’s the opportunity to have a positive impact in someone else’s life. To me, there is nothing more rewarding than the feeling that you are making a lasting impact in another person and/or your community. I love how leadership is situational and takes many different forms and roles depending on the circumstances. For example, there are times when, as a leader, your job is to inspire and motivate others, and other times, it may be to provide strategic direction and advice. Knowing what type of leader is needed and understanding how you can be most effective is a learning process that never ends and art that is never perfected.

Toughest challenge

As I look back to how things started, moving from Puerto Rico to Indiana in 1996 with nothing more than a little over $9,000, and no job or home waiting for me was pretty surreal and risky. No one knew who I was, and I barely knew anyone. Fast forward three years after working at a bank in Fort Wayne, I found myself in law school in Bloomington taking graduate coursework in English, a first for me at that time. Upon graduating from law school and successfully passing the bar exam (another tough challenge in and of itself), I began my professional journey in Indianapolis, and the rest is history. Not sure how I wasn’t more scared and intimidated at the time (maybe I was, and I just can’t remember), but I am super glad I did.

Advice for a young person

Do not place limitations on yourself or allow others to pigeonhole you into a particular field or industry. My career has been anything but a straight line, and there are many transferable skill sets that are extremely valuable in many roles. Industry knowledge can be taught or acquired.•

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