Thankful Visual Artist Walks by Faith, Not by Sight Amid Unexpected Journey to Gate City Bank
Time and again, despite his greatest efforts to make plans in this life, David Hadden always seems to find himself somewhere better than he could have possibly imagined: exactly where he’s meant to be. The right place at the right time. If he’s learned anything, it’s that everything can change in an instant, and what appears to be irreparably broken can be transformed into something beautiful – a perfect design.
In the midst of life’s inevitable storms, Hadden has learned to be still and believe that all things will come together in a pattern for good. Moment by moment, he learned to trust.
Like when Hadden’s still camera randomly malfunctioned during a once-in-a-lifetime lightning storm. His quick, off-the-cuff repair work and refusal to give up – a Hail Mary attempt to salvage a grueling and meticulous photoshoot – resulted in one of the most breathtaking and iconic images of his entire career.
Or the time a TV company suddenly pulled the plug on an exciting obstacle course series he had spent over a year producing. After pouring blood, sweat and tears into the project, Hadden nearly did a spit-take when he heard it had fallen into the lap of a Shark Tank investor who saw potential in the show.
But the days Hadden’s phone sat silent following a job interview he felt sure was the pinnacle of his career, those were excruciating and almost too much to bear. However, when looking back now, he can’t help but smile and feel an eternal sense of gratitude. Because the phone eventually did ring, and it wasn’t who he expected. Gate City Bank was on the line, and little did Hadden know, so was a life.
Upon starting at the bank, Hadden and his wife Gayle (who has since become a team member herself) decided to take advantage of the company’s amazing health benefits and do routine check-ups. That’s when a doctor made the discovery – deadly amelanotic melanoma spreading rapidly on Gayle’s shin. After a brief period of treatment, Hadden sighed a breath of relief. The love of his life was cancer-free.
“Life is full of these moments you can look back on and see the fingerprint of God. Those are the moments that I cherish and value,” he says. “I’m so thankful my wife is still with us today, and for that, I owe Gate City Bank a great debt.”
Indeed, moments mean a great deal to Hadden. In his six years as senior multimedia designer at Gate City Bank, his job has been to capture them with beautiful photos, video and graphic art. It’s a labor of love that clicked at age 12 – with a beginner’s camera. The simple point-and-shoot was a gift from an encouraging mom who saw something special in her son, and it placed the world of visual storytelling in his sights.
“My mom always inspired me to help other people through my work,” Hadden says. “She also taught me to always do my best – that whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”
That passion and sense of purpose is easily seen in Hadden’s work today. Each creative piece he produces helps tell Gate City Bank’s incredible story, which has been 100 years in the making, and revolves around creating a better way of life for customers, communities and team members.
Hadden likes that the bank turns to him with unique opportunities that not only help him grow, but allow the company’s mission to thrive. Whether it’s designing falling leaves in an animated email header or rendering a fun Giving Hearts Day video themed around “The Price Is Right,” he’s in his happy place. It’s all about feeling empowered to share ideas and deliver a message reinforced with unforgettable visuals.
“If the people around me feel helped, that’s what brings me the most joy,” Hadden says. “It feels good to work somewhere where I can make a difference and contribute to great things.”
Upon starting at Gate City Bank, Hadden joined the Marketing department and went to work in shaping the company’s multimedia framework and visual strategy from the ground up. From his early days of providing media support for his church to the freelance work he later did for startups, Hadden’s professional history prepared him for his new role, and the bank continuously leaned on his expertise.
Hadden’s skillful photography work resulted in eye-catching headshots and warm, welcoming imagery in the bank’s lobbies. His TV production know-how and budgeting experience opened the door to investing in more sophisticated camera equipment, which led to high-quality videos and audio. And endless hours spent structuring, archiving and managing content in a previous life finally paid off in a big way.
“When I came to Gate City Bank, I was able to help shape my role based on my background,” he says. “It was very exciting and rewarding. It’s not often you get that kind of opportunity.”
At Gate City Bank, there’s always opportunity for betterment and advancement, both personally and professionally. It’s an uplifting environment where team members show support for one another and celebrate one another’s successes. As Hadden learned, if you knock, the door will be opened for you.
“The bank has a desire to see everyone’s potential utilized, to recognize that the work they’re doing is really very good. It’s appreciated,” he says.
The nature of Hadden’s job allows him to brush shoulders with most team members at the bank, and anyone who knows him knows that he loves to chat. He’s always eager to share stories about his beloved family and the unique projects he’s working on. He’ll also ask how you’re doing, offering words of appreciation and encouragement. He enjoys spending time with people and making them feel valued.
“One thing I try to do consistently is recognize how cool people truly are,” Hadden says. “I enjoy pouring into them, as well as learning from them. It leads to a sense of community and camaraderie.”
Hadden adds that the bank’s executive leaders are among the most approachable and caring he’s ever worked with. They show interest in you and want to see you succeed.
Hadden will be the first to tell you that Gate City Bank has a workplace culture that revolves around having fun and incorporating team members’ personalities. For example, he loves how the Marketing team communicates almost entirely with GIF images when using Microsoft Teams. It keeps things light.
“That culture we’ve developed as a team is great. It’s so fitting,” Hadden says. “It’s been fun to watch it develop and grow, especially in recent years.”
Hadden also appreciates that, when you have to be away from work – whether it’s for a sick kiddo, a doctor’s appointment, a vacation or anything in between – your fellow team members help carry the workload and make sure nothing falls through the cracks. Everyone works together.
He also appreciates the flexible work schedule Gate City Bank has been so ahead of the game in offering. Depending on their role, some team members have the option to work remotely full or part time, and it’s been well received throughout the company. Recently, it allowed Hadden to care for his mother-in-law after a major surgery and during the preceding chemotherapy treatments.
And in addition to providing great pay and the best benefits around, Gate City Bank fosters a culture of community giving that has encouraged all team members to make a difference. Hadden has been encouraged to volunteer for a number of different causes on company time, most recently the local Emergency Food Pantry. His favorite giving opportunity, however, is Giving Hearts Day.
“When I give to a charity, I care about maximizing the impact. I care that the money goes where it’s supposed to,” Hadden says. “For example, during my first Giving Hearts Day at the company, for every dollar I gave, $4 went to a charity of my choice. So thanks to Gate City Bank and Dakota Medical Foundation, I was able to quadruple my impact. It was one of the coolest things, and I appreciated it.”
As Hadden approaches his seventh year at Gate City Bank, he’s come to find that some things never change, and the level of dependability is unwavering.
“Since the beginning, I’ve experienced compassion and thoughtfulness from the bank,” he says. “Everyone from an executive level to brand new team members knows and embraces that culture. I feel very comfortable depending on Gate City Bank to continue to care for me, my family and my co-workers. And having gone through my share of professional and personal turmoil, I can’t tell you how wonderful that is.”
However, Hadden is quick to note that within the bank’s last 100 years, some things have changed – and it’s most definitely been for the better.
“Even though I’m seeing more gray hairs, I’m not as old as the bank,” he says with a chuckle. “But even in my time, the bank has never stopped offering more – it’s never stopped making things better. The bank takes care of its customers, communities and team members. I feel incredibly blessed to work for a company that’s always striving to provide better banking and be the best employer they can.”
As Hadden looks back on his Gate City Bank journey, he can’t help but feel indescribable joy. He’s learned that finding a better way of life is always within reach – sometimes you just need a little faith.
“I appreciate so much what Gate City Bank has done for my family and me,” he says. “The fact that I’ve found an employer that makes me feel so appreciated is just so awesome. I’m very happy here.”