Meet the Veterans: Steve Marin
UMB is fortunate to have several veterans on our team and are proud to hire veterans in our local communities. This series will highlight some of our associates who have served their country in the military prior to joining UMB.
What about your past shaped who you are today?
I always love to say that I was born in East Los Angeles. Before I started school, however, my parents decided to move our family to the San Gabriel Valley, just outside LA, for a better chance at a quality education. I believe one of the most important aspects of my childhood in LA was the early exposure to diversity. My schools were melting pots with students from all ethnic backgrounds. As a college student in LA, I witnessed the devastation of the LA Riots in the wake of the racial tensions between the police and the ethnic minority populations. Growing up in this environment, I believe, gave me a unique outlook on life as I launched into the world after college.
Lacking a specific vision for my future, I stumbled through my first year of college at California State University, Los Angeles. I was overwhelmed by the transition from secondary school to college. After two years of struggling through school, I decided to take a leave of absence and enlist in the Navy. My three years in the Navy helped me mature as a young man as I gained a better idea of what I wanted to do in life. I resumed my undergraduate education at a small liberal arts college called the University of La Verne where I graduated with honors with a degree in mathematics.
I met my lovely bride, Lisa, while in college at Cal State LA. We instantly hit it off. I wasn’t expecting to meet my future bride so soon in life, but there was no denying she was the one for me. Lisa became my closest friend, advisor and inspiration. Looking back now, I believe meeting Lisa was the turning point in my life.
Tell us about your family.
My parents are Lupe and Josie Marin. My dad is a Vietnam veteran and the hardest working guy I know. He retired from a lifetime career as a construction worker. His body is banged up, but his spirit is that of a young man. My mom was the CEO of our home and the person you had to answer to when you caused trouble. Let’s just say, I spent a lot of time explaining myself to her.
I’m number three out of six kids. My oldest brother is a retired Naval officer. My other siblings have successful careers in design, education, finance and medical support.
My own children are Julian, 15, and Evan, 9. Julian spent a total of seven years living overseas in Japan and Germany as we packed up the house every few years in my career in the military. He is now a freshman and intends on having an uninterrupted high school career free of moves. Evan spent three years in Germany and went to an actual German kindergarten. He’s now in third grade.
Why did you choose to join the military?
I was inspired to join the military to do something amazing. I enlisted in the Navy shortly after the 1991 Gulf War. I was inspired by the service of the men and women who accomplished the historic task of ejecting Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait. After three years as an enlisted sailor and after earning my bachelor’s degree, I decided the military was the place to establish my career. In 1995 I entered the U.S. Air Force’s Officer Training School and was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1996. I spent the next two years in flight school where I earned my navigator wings.
Give us some highlights about your military career.
As an aviator, we lived by the mantra that a “bad day in the air was better than a good day on the ground.” That was true for the majority of my military career until I was given the opportunity to take my experience to the next level. After a decade of flying, I was selected to begin training as a military air power strategist, spending a year honing my skills. My first assignment as a strategist proved to be the challenge of my life and the highlight of my career. I was assigned to the newest Air Force command that was responsible for operations in Africa. I spent the next three years immersed in all things Africa. The most significant event was preparing options for the President of the United States in response to Muammar Gaddafi’s attacks on the citizens of Libya. My initial team of 17 planners worked nonstop for a month drafting plans for as many contingencies as we could envision. As the crisis progressed, that small team grew into an international partnership. Our work on those plans, that would become Operation Odyssey Dawn, was carried out by an allied air force with success—sparing the lives of Libyan citizens. I have an immense respect for those planners who had a hand in designing one of the most complex and successful air campaigns in U.S. history.
What are the greatest challenges that someone leaving the military and entering a new career faces?
The biggest challenge for me was going from being an expert in the art of war to being the least experienced person in a new industry. My challenge is accepting my new position and allowing myself the time to learn the banking industry. It is particularly challenging for me after having been responsible for so much in the past. Working with people like Kelly Eschweiler, Andre Trudell and Charles Littrell helped me realize the value I can bring to a team and the education process that lies ahead.
How do you give back?
My passion remains for those who served in the military. One of my commanders in the Air Force always told us that the life of someone’s 17-year-old son or daughter depended on the work we did. I carry that sobering thought with me today as I participate in initiatives that help those that served launch into their next career. I am a previous member of Team Red White and Blue‡, a group dedicated to connecting military members to the communities they are stationed near. I look for every opportunity to get involved in career development of transitioning veterans. This is a two-way dialogue and challenge. Veterans need to understand that they must compete against seasoned professionals in every industry. They need to understand how their experience compares to those they compete with. Hiring managers need to understand the uniqueness of military veterans and the benefits they could have on a team. These are the dialogues to which I can provide clarity. After seeing Mariner Kemper’s Veterans Day video message and receiving the invitation from Jim Cornelius to get involved in UMB’s Veterans Engagement Taskforce, I knew I could make a difference here at UMB.
Where is your favorite place to travel?
My favorite place to travel is Europe. I lived in Germany for three years and we crisscrossed the continent at every opportunity. By far, my favorite city is Barcelona. It felt like home to me. In general, I felt a connection to Spain with my Mexican ancestry.
What are your favorite ways to spend a weekend?
A good weekend for me is getting in at least one long workout, an activity with the kids and a night out with my wife. Kansas City provides the perfect environment to fulfill a weekend of activity almost every weekend.
How did you come to be at UMB? What made you want to work here?
I met Tom Carignan at a Kansas City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce‡ networking event. He asked me what my story was and what I was doing. When I shared with him my desire to work for a place that is known for its culture, regardless of the industry, he immediately gave me his card and asked for my résumé. I sent it to him the next day and that afternoon I had an interview for the Emerging Leaders Program.
Tell us about the Emerging Leaders Program and what benefits you see from it.
This program is a gem. It can be tailored to fit the needs of anybody looking to start, change or re-emerge into a career at UMB. While most of my classmates in the program are much younger than me, we have a connection. We have a desire to do great things at UMB, and we are starting a new career in the banking and finance industry. As a military veteran, this is an ideal environment to test relevant skills and gain a better understanding of where I fit.
What is the VET program and what do you do as the Chair of Engagement?
The mission of Veterans Engagement Taskforce (VET) is to recognize the contributions of veterans to our way of life, educate the community about the value of veterans in business, and to support the veteran community as a whole. We’ve already made some huge advances, and we aren’t done yet. With Jim Cornelius at the helm, and a group of fired up veterans and intrinsically motivated citizens, we are postured to take on some challenging initiatives and improve the quality of life of our veterans and their families.
As co-chair of engagement, I’m working with Ryan Gardner (who will be featured next in this series) to rally UMB’s veterans desire to continue to serve. We’d like to be the muscle behind every effort when a call for volunteers is made whether it relates to supporting veterans or not.
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Mr. Marin is an Emerging Leaders Program associate for UMB. He is responsible for learning about the banking industry, building a network of support, and contributing to projects and services in the rotation areas assigned. He joined UMB in June, 2014 and has less than a year of experience in the financial services industry. He is a 2014 graduate of Washington University in St. Louis’ Executive MBA program.