Meet the Veterans: Gregory Coopwood
UMB is fortunate to have several veterans on our team and are proud to hire veterans in our local communities. This series highlights some of our associates who have served their country in the military prior to joining UMB. Be sure to check out the other profiles in our series.
Tell us about yourself
I’m originally from Woodbridge, Va., which is about 25 minutes outside of Washington, D.C. I attended and played football at Missouri State University. My journey is a little bit interesting because I applied for college and talked with the football coaches at Missouri State while I was deployed in Iraq. It’s amazing how supportive some people are in helping others achieve their goals. I have three sisters, Emily, Kimberly and Olivia, so growing up being the only boy has had its challenges with what to watch on TV!
What about your past shaped who you are today?
I had a great upbringing by both of my parents. My father passed away in January 2014, but the values and character he nurtured in me have molded who I am as a man. Also, the fact that my family was so involved with sports in and out of school really improved my self-awareness and confidence.
My dad made the biggest difference in my life. Being the only boy, he made sure that he and I had a strong relationship. My best childhood memories are of my dad waking me up at 4 a.m. to take me to work with him. It was those truck rides where he talked to me about manhood, preparing for a family, values and character. One of the biggest things he taught me was how important it is to have communication in relationships. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it had not been for such a strong man in my life.
Why did you join the military?
I chose to join the military because I wanted to make a difference. My mindset was “I’m doing this because I want my future family to continue to be free.” It was a contribution that I desired to give and be a part of.
Give us some highlights about your military career.
I was part of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and “Operation New Dawn,” so I was able to see the transition of an 11-year operation ending and a new one beginning.
My favorite moment was sitting in a plane on the way home after my deployment to Iraq. I kept thinking to myself, “I made it, I kept my promise…I made it”. When I walked into the pick-up area, I saw my family there waiting for me. I’ve never felt so proud but so weak at the same time before, because when I finally saw my family, I knew that I really made it through.
What are the greatest challenges that someone leaving the military and entering a new career faces?
A great challenge is having patience because people don’t understand the mindset a soldier has. A lot of people interpret a soldier’s discipline in certain areas as communication gaps. The maturity is different, and nothing will bother a soldier more than being late to something.
What are your favorite ways to give back in the community?
I’ve recently joined the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kansas City‡, and I look forward to being a mentor and being there for someone who needs a big brother. A lot of people complain about how the world is changing and speak negatively. My question to those people is simply, “What are you doing about it?” More than likely, the people complaining are not volunteering or applying themselves to make a difference. So I don’t talk about making a difference that often, but I like to go out and do it.
Where is your favorite place to travel?
My favorite place to travel will always be to the east coast. That’s where my entire family is, and that is where I was raised. It’s always a great feeling to go home and drive on the road you’ve traveled hundreds of time and reminisce about the past. Something that I always look forward to eating is my mom’s well-known potato salad. It’s something that can make a bad day great.
What are your favorite ways to spend a weekend?
As of right now I don’t know the city that well, but I am learning. Weekends are spent for the most part working out and relaxing. I have a nice 55-inch TV that is neglected throughout the week, so I try to spend some time with it when I can. My hobbies are anything that deals with sports and fitness, and if food is a hobby then food as well.
How did you come to be at UMB? What made you want to work here? Rebecca Christie, Vice President/Talent Acquisition Specialist, and Ryan Gardner, Fraud Risk Manager, are the reasons why I am at UMB. Originally I was going to be a federal investigator; however, Rebecca stopped me at a career fair at Missouri State University. She saw my résumé and explained to me about the UMB Emerging Leaders Program. She then connected me with Ryan, who is also a veteran. The two of them completely sold me on the culture that I had to experience it for myself. When I came to Kansas City for my interviews, the first thing I noticed was the Diversity and Inclusion trophies. I was continuously greeted and welcomed in a loving way, making me feel like family before I even had an interview. Thankfully, I was accepted, and here I am. The culture at UMB is like nothing I’ve seen before, and I am privileged to be a part of this organization.
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Mr. Gregory Coopwood is an Emerging Leader Associate for UMB. He joined UMB in June 2015.