This Commerce leader stays consistently focused on making an impact.
Rick Heise, an executive vice president at Commerce Bank and its new director of commercial payments, is energized by the opportunities presented by his expanded role. “We’re going to grow our commercial payments business in new and different ways, and for me to be able to play a part in how we grow from here is something I’m excited about,” he says.
Commerce’s commercial payments team supports clients across the United States by providing innovative services that help businesses make, receive, automate and reconcile payments efficiently and effectively. Heise is now responsible for everything related to this function, adding to his existing responsibilities over the bank’s healthcare group and commercial credit card offerings.
As Heise notes, he also is lucky enough to lead a team of specialists who work directly with commercial payments customers. “We’re a very focused client organization that is specialized both in our solutions and also in our industry verticals. The breadth of what we do includes comprehensive payment automation solutions that are complemented with teams that consult, implement and provide personalized account management. This team is very focused on automating payment workflows and allowing our clients to focus on more value-added functions in their organizations. We will do everything we can to help make a customer’s finances run more smoothly.”
It’s a role that Heise is well prepared for. He joined Commerce in 2017 after two decades of experience in the healthcare industry — first at Mayo Clinic, and later at Cerner Corporation, a healthcare technology company. In those roles, he developed a track record for driving business growth, building new solutions and organizing teams around go-to-market strategies, all of which made him well suited to his work at Commerce.
Interestingly, Heise says he didn’t think the next step in his career would be toward working for a bank, but “as I started studying the industry, I realized how much opportunity there was,” he says, adding that his research changed his mind.
“I felt like banks had a bigger role to play in healthcare — and for that matter, in any commercial business. That was very interesting to me.”
The culture at Commerce was also a significant draw. “There’s a very strong, positive culture here, and it’s something we really focus on,” Heise says. “I’ve been lucky in that I’ve experienced some wonderful cultures in my career — here, at Cerner, and at Mayo Clinic. When you have a great culture in place, your teams can perform and deliver at a really high level.”
During his initial years with Commerce, Heise led the establishment of a team with deep understanding in providing payment services to businesses in the healthcare industry. He is now replicating that model in other key industries, including insurance, construction and government/education, to name a few. “Hiring people who have experience in the industries we serve is important. Their knowledge helps us understand our clients and their needs very well. Our people and our teams differentiate us.”
Angelia Ewing, a manager in Commerce’s commercial payments center of excellence who has worked with Heise for many years, says she appreciates his leadership style. “He’s very strategic about where we want to go in the future, and he’s a great collaborator,” she says.
"He’s inspirational. He can paint a clear vision for the future in a way that gets people excited about our destination and what we need to do to get there.”
Heise recognizes that for a team to succeed, it needs strong leadership. A big part of his approach is to focus on developing the leaders his teams require. “To me, there’s a difference between managers and leaders,” he says. “Managers are people you have to follow because you report into them. They conduct your reviews and that sort of thing. A leader is someone you naturally follow because they provide clear direction, they’re knowledgeable, set a strong culture and drive a common strategy.”
Ewing says she herself has benefited from Heise’s focus on leadership development. “He’s always working to stretch individuals into new areas,” she says. “I’m a good example of his approach. I’m a very operational-minded person, but I wanted to work on some of my client-facing skills, and that’s why I also work in account management. He took a chance on me and gave me the opportunity to stretch in a way I hadn’t before. It helps me work through the longer-term development plan I have for myself.”
In addition to working to make a difference in his role at Commerce, Heise is a board member for several nonprofits in his adopted hometown. “I’ve lived in Kansas City for 20 years, but I traveled so often for work that at times I didn’t feel like I truly lived here,” he says. “When I joined Commerce, I made the conscious decision to get better connected with the community. I wanted to give back and make an impact.”
Given his background in the healthcare industry, he joined the board of Olathe Medical Center first, followed by RegaloRx. “They’re a very interesting nonprofit,” Heise says of the latter. “Pharmaceutical companies will often provide free medication for people who can’t afford it, but they need a way to get the medication to people. RegaloRx helps connect those companies with medical providers who can prescribe the medications to the patients who need it. It’s really an amazing organization and I’m proud to be part of it.”
Heise is also on the board of Starlight Theatre, the largest and oldest performing arts institution in Kansas City. “My wife and I both love the theater,” he says. “Starlight is an iconic theater in the United States, and there’s really nothing like it. It’s a very well-run organization, and a strong contributor to community outreach and work with schools and municipalities that can’t afford to have their own theater programs.”
It's fair to say that Heise has made an impact in multiple ways since joining Commerce, and he’s excited to be taking on the additional challenges of his new role. “We aren’t a traditional old bank,” he says. “We stay in front of the things that make the most sense for our clients. We’re applying resources in different places to advance our capabilities. I like that we’re investing in things that will differentiate us.”Ewing believes that Heise and Commerce will continue to be a strong fit for each other. “I’ve known Rick a long time, and as I’ve watched him, I’ve always respected what he does and have enjoyed working for him,” she says. “He’s continued to grow his ability to collaborate and work with people to get things done. I think Commerce has been as good for him as he’s been for Commerce.”