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Alex Uvidia: FDIC's senior large financial institutions examiner.

Alex Uvidia has over nine years of bank examination and policy oversight experience with various regulatory agencies. Currently, Alex serves as a senior examiner for large banks, with a focus on capital markets for the FDIC. Alex oversees capital stress-testing practices at large financial institutions, and leads examination teams in the assessment of risk management practices over complex loan and investment portfolios. Previously, Alex conducted the safety and soundness examinations of a wide array of commercial banks with elevated regulatory scrutiny due to their troubled condition, M&A strategies, and risky loan concentrations. Alex also has served as a subject matter expert on bank regulatory reform at the U.S. Treasury's Office of International Banking and Securities Markets. Alex began his career at the Office of Thrift Supervision, where he led safety and soundness examination of savings and loan associations. He holds a master's in Business Administration from University California, Los Angeles, and graduated from the California State University, Long Beach, with a B.S. in Business Administration-Finance (Magna Cum Laude).

Share with us your background, education and initial career positions.

I am originally from Quito, Ecuador. I moved to Orange County, California, when I was 16. From early on, I knew I wanted a career in finance, and I pursued a B.S. in Business Administration, with an emphasis in Finance, at California State University, Long Beach. Shortly after graduating in 2007, I worked as a bank examiner for the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS). The examiner role accelerated my professional growth as I was consistently exposed to complex banking issues and routinely interacted with senior bank executives. After working at the OTS for a few years, I opted to go back to school and earned an MBA from UCLA in 2013.

When and why did you join the FDIC? What has the experience been like?

My transition into the FDIC was a bit unusual. After I had worked at the OTS for four years, regulatory reform forced OTS to consolidate with another regulatory agency in the summer of 2011. The consolidation caused me to consider my career opportunities, including a bank examiner role at the FDIC's Orange County Field Office. The decision was fairly easy. I had worked with FDIC examiners in interagency bank exams a number of times, and had come away quite impressed with the FDIC team's camaraderie and the examiners' expertise. I was also attracted to the agency's commitment to advanced training for its employees and emphasis on life/work balance.

My experience at the FDIC has been incredibly rewarding. As an examiner for large banks, I am consistently challenged. As a numbers person, I enjoy reviewing and assessing complex investment and lending activities. As a team leader, I take pride in developing plans for the supervision of banks and organizing teams in a way that leverages on the specialized skills of our diverse workforce. I have also grown professionally by taking advantage of the FDIC s rotational programs. Through these assignments, I have been able to expand my knowledge of areas of interest such as foreign affairs and policy advisory.

What is the philosophy you follow when leading your teams?

My approach to team leadership is simple: build trust-based relationships and lead by example. In my role at FDIC, I often assess a wide array of banking operations. To meet our supervisory objectives, I have to rely on my team members' skill sets, which range from econometric modeling to information technology/cybersecurity expertise, To facilitate more efficient and well-rounded examinations, I work alongside my colleagues to ascertain their overall assessments, as well as any recommendations for enhancements to risk management practices that we may consider. At the same time, I focus on providing these individuals with the support they need to successfully complete their assignments.

What is the most important lesson you have learned in your current position?

The most important lesson I've learned is to be a lifelong learner. I am consistently assessing the pros and cons of new banking activities. At times, these activities arise from client demand, while other times they stem from bank regulatory reform. For example, many banks have begun to form partnerships with financial technology companies. This has required me to learn more about these businesses' operating strategies and to understand the risks faced by the partner financial institutions. As a result of bank regulatory reform, large financial institutions periodically need to estimate potential losses that may be incurred under economic downturns. Inasmuch, I have had to expand my knowledge base of econometric modeling practices and how senior banking executives can use this type of forecasting as a risk management tool.

What is a typical day at the FDIC like, and what aspects of your profession do you enjoy the most?

One of the aspects I enjoy most about my job is the variety and flexibility of my workdays. On any day, I may be meeting with the chief executive officer or chief financial officer of a regional bank to discuss strategic initiatives to attain sustained profitability and growth. Later the same day, I could be meeting with my team to discuss the impact of new regulation on the banking industry.

Aside from my day-to-day responsibilities, I truly enjoy engaging in the FDIC's diversity committee initiatives, catching up with my mentor, and contributing to the agency's recruiting initiatives. Through the FDIC's Corporate Mentoring Program, I work with a senior manager to enhance my resume, build my network, and establish a career growth path. As a recruiter over the past few months, I have had the privilege to participate in our agency's efforts to establish our digital footprint on various social media recruiting platforms. It's been equally rewarding to conduct on-site campus recruitment activities to engage the future workforce generation.

What is the most important piece of advice that was passed on to you? And what is your advice to a future FDIC?

My advice for future FDIC employees would be to take risks and not be afraid of stepping out of the comfort zone. The agency devotes a tremendous amount of time and resources to develop well-rounded employees that are able to effectively navigate through a variety of situations. In my case, this meant stepping out of my role to give presentations in banker conferences, train fellow examiners on complex technical processes, and serve as policy advisor to senior officials at the Treasury Department.
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Publication:Latino Leaders
Article Type:Interview
Date:Sep 1, 2016
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