It’s common knowledge that personal referrals can have the biggest impact. So when an INB customer recommended Zachary Ponder as an INB commercial lender, you can be sure we paid attention.  It didn’t take long for me to realize Zach would be perfect for the job, bringing with him a real desire to help make Peoria businesses stronger than before the pandemic.


Zach knew the fit would be right for him when he had a chance for a second interview with INB President and CEO Sarah Phalen. “After meeting with Sarah I knew INB would be a great place to work – I could just tell the culture was strong and people really enjoyed working here.  I could tell there was a good vibe at the bank and that there are good people in place to move the bank forward.”

Zach joined INB in August as vice president, commercial lending based out of our Peoria location.

Branch Banking Sets Up Move to Commercial Lending

Zach has been “a banker” since he graduated from McKendree University in Lebanon, IL in 2009. While in school, he worked part-time at a department store. Before graduating, he was offered a store manager position.  He wasn’t clear what he wanted to do, but he knew that retail wasn’t the full time job for him. 

Five months later, Zach was offered a job as a manager in training with a local credit union. He worked as a bank branch manager and, later, as a commercial portfolio manager. This last position gave him the opportunity to go out, meet business owners and learn what small business lending was all about. “I really enjoyed getting to know the businesses. That really helped facilitate the jump to the commercial department (with INB).”

 New Business Realities

Lean, efficient business operations. More employees working from home.  These Covid-era business realities impact the jobs of INB commercial lenders, says Zach.  This changing landscape is ideal for him as he joins INB. He can help businesses evaluate solutions to move forward.  In successfully doing so, he says, “I want to make INB top of mind for people when they are talking with their friends about their bank.”

Family, Community, “Free” Time

Troy, IL, a small farming community about 18 miles east of St. Louis, is where Zach grew up. He met his wife, Lauren, when she was working at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis; they married in 2014.  He elaborates: “When we got married, we agreed to move to her hometown of Peoria when we were going to start a family because almost all of her family still lived in Peoria and only my parents lived in Edwardsville – the rest of my family is in different states. In January 2016 we found out she was pregnant with our son, Will, so I started looking for jobs.  I found one and moved to Peoria in June 2016, while Lauren still lived and worked in St. Louis until Will was born in September 2016.  His first car ride was from the hospital in St. Louis to Peoria. Scariest drive of my life having a newborn in the backseat!”

To help establish himself in the Peoria area, Zach joined the Peoria-area Kiwanis.  “I chose Kiwanis because I was part of Kiwanis when I was working in Edwardsville, IL and thought it would be a good way to get plugged in and get to know some more people in the community. . . Kiwanis does a lot to help the children in the community – whether that is through providing snacks and food for the kids on the weekends or volunteering time doing arts and crafts with them and showing them that people care . . . I was also a recipient of a Kiwanis Scholarship my senior year of high school which helped with tuition my first year of college, so Kiwanis also has a special place in my heart.”

Zach is also part of the Make-A-Wish Regional Council in Peoria and is a Junior Achievement and Reading Buddies volunteer.  But most of his free time is devoted to his family. Will, 5, and Caroline, 1, and wife, Lauren. Yet he tries to find time to use his home gym, play golf and read.  While he has always liked watching movies, he says that interest has taken a back seat in recent years.

Please welcome Zach, NMLS# 836692, to INB.

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