A Magazine for the George Mason University Community

Entrepreneur Fully Embraces Change

By Mason Spirit contributor on June 21, 2022


Like many George Mason University students, Shaza Andersen, BA Area Studies ’89, balanced several responsibilities alongside her academics. She participated in Student Government and other activities, and also worked as a bank teller. Through experiences like those, Andersen found that being fully involved in everything she does has never disappointed—whether as a student or in her career.

Andersen’s work experience as a student confirmed that banking was right for her. When she graduated, she accepted a job at a bank and a place in their management training program. In the following years, Andersen says that she never considered any job beneath her.

Shaza Andersen, CEO of Trustar Bank, gives the commencement address during the 2021 Winter Commencement, morning ceremony. Photo by: Ron Aira/Creative Services

“There is no substitute for showing up and doing the work…,” she told the graduates at Mason’s Winter Graduation in December 2021, “and nothing can replace the importance of the network of relationships you build as you grow your life and career.”

Andersen, who came to the United States from Lebanon as a child, has lived through many changes and learned they are not to be feared. She instead treats change as opportunity. This mindset helped her become the chief operating officer of WashingtonFirst Bank, which she guided from a single branch to significant financial success. “Starting a new bank from scratch was just the challenge I needed because it forced me to grow,” Andersen says.

After that bank was acquired, she had both the team and the network in place to found Trustar Bank in 2019, where she is currently chief executive officer. Trustar Bank is the first Virginia community bank to be chartered in more than a decade.

Andersen has been recognized by American Banker as one of the Top 25 Women to Watch, twice selected as a Top Banker by SmartCEO magazine, and recently named one of Washington’s Most Powerful Women by Washingtonian magazine.

Andersen is quick to point out that nothing she accomplished was done overnight or alone. “It’s important to have the courage to take risks and trust people to be part of the journey,” she says.

In addition to leading Trustar Bank, Andersen is the founder of the Trustar Youth Foundation, which aims to improve the lives of children in the Washington, D.C., area. She and her husband, Marc Andersen, BA Economics ’90, also serve on Mason’s School of Business Dean’s Advisory Council.

“Explore what you love, don’t seek out overnight success,” she says. “Whatever you do, do it with passion because life isn’t lived on the sidelines.”

—Rebecca Kobayashi


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