For those who answer the call, serving in the military is challenging and personally rewarding.
Veterans Day is a time to remember and honor the sacrifices of our military. But it’s also an occasion to note and celebrate the many ways veterans enrich our communities.
The experiences, the teamwork, the principles and the mission-driven deployments in foreign lands have lifelong effects on these people. As they carry these experiences home, they shape their character and the possibilities they see for their world in profound ways.
That’s precisely why Minnwest is celebrating our veterans today, with a spotlight on Neil Anderson. He joined Minnwest Bank in October 2022 as Market President of our Farmington branch, as well as the Senior Vice President. As he recounted his service, notably, his yearlong deployment to Kosovo as an intelligence officer, one thing is clear: The service played a significant role in shaping him into the leader he is today.
15 years of honorable service
Alongside his three-decade tenure in banking, Anderson boasts a commendable 15-year military background. He spent a total of three years in active duty in the Army, achieving the rank of Major. Most of his service was in the Minnesota National Guard with units of the 34th Infantry Division, also known as the Red Bull Division.
He was drawn to the service as a political science major at the University of Minnesota.
At the time, the military’s reputation was still in the midst of what he referred to as its post-Vietnam “hangover.”
“People in the '80s didn’t aspire to join the military,” he said.
But Anderson saw things a little differently. In fact, he has the ability to see beyond what’s in front of all of us: He sees systems, and all the interconnected parts within these systems. Originally, he envisioned himself living abroad, building a career in international business. But as he studied political science, he began to appreciate the role of the military in international policy.
“That’s where I wanted to be,” he said.
A safe and secure environment
When his yearlong deployment to Kosovo came up, he was establishing his financial career while serving as commander of a military intelligence company for the reserves, then based in Rosemount. From 2003-2004, he served on the general staff running the NATO-led peace support operation known as the Kosovo Force (KFOR) in the aftermath of the yearlong Kosovo War.
“Our goal was to provide a safe and secure environment so that the country could function on its own,” Anderson said.
This mission tapped his acumen as a planner and problem solver, as he addressed security issues for elections, soothed relations between allied troops and investigated local crimes.
Taking on banking's most significant challenges
With his military experience, Anderson was well prepared to take on a particularly challenging period in the banking industry.
In the fallout of the subprime lending crisis, more than 465 banks failed in the U.S. between 2008-2012. When he was named CEO and president of two different struggling Minnesota banks, he successfully returned them from the brink of failure by enhancing their credit quality, growing their profits and getting back into the good graces of regulators.
Community building, one relationship at a time
Anderson's career in the military has left him with a strong appreciation for building strong relationships and strong communities.
He’s been a member of the American Legion, Rotary International and Lions Club. He has actively participated in several chambers of commerce, served on a number of boards and commissions, notably the Shorewood Planning Commission and Southwest Transit Commission as their treasurer.
Naturally, he embraces Minnwest Bank’s guiding principles of giving back time, talent and treasure. Since he’s taken on his current role, he notes the bank’s deepening involvement with the Farmington Community Foundation.
“Part of it is just showing up,” he said. “When people know you’re there, that means a lot. Showing up is a part of building relationships because they create those deeper levels of communication. It’s not just chit-chat, but developing trust and loyalty.”