Blog   Tagged ‘Emerging Leaders Program’

Meet the Veterans: Ryan Gardner

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UMB is fortunate to have several veterans on our team, and we’re 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.

Q&A with Ryan Gardner, Staff Sergeant, MN Air National Guard
Ryan Gardner - Staff Sergeant, MN Air National Guard

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What can you tell us about your background?
I was born and raised in Minnesota, just south of Minneapolis. When I was 17, I joined the MN Air National Guard and served for six years in the security forces unit. During that time I also attended Winona State University and majored in Finance with minors in Accounting and Business Administration.  Beginning in my last year of undergrad, I began interning at IBM as a financial analyst and then later was hired on full-time in the same role. In 2011, after separating from the Air Force, I decided to pursue another dream of mine–living abroad. In December 2011 I moved to Nicaragua and taught English at an orphanage through most of 2012. Upon returning to the States, I began working for the Department of Veterans Affairs as a Veterans Service Representative and obtained my M.S. in Leadership at Walden University.

What about your past shaped who you are today?
When I was a kid I had pretty bad asthma, and I remember our “run day” in kindergarten. The goal was to make it three miles, and my teacher had warned all of the volunteers to keep a close eye on me that day. In the first few laps, I remember hearing the volunteers telling me that I could stop whenever I wanted. As I kept going and broke the halfway mark, those heeds of caution turned to encouragement as they cheered me on until I finished the run. I ended up being one of two people to complete the run that day. The concept of perseverance and the idea that limitations are never finite has always stuck with me and has driven me throughout life. 

Tell us about your family.
I’m extremely close with my mom and my two brothers.  I’m the oldest of the three brothers, and I’m sure my brothers would say I take on more of a paternal role than I should.  Adam and I, being only two and a half years apart, grew up doing everything together.  Since Cole is eight years younger, I got to be the “cool” older brother growing up. Both relationships have remained exceptionally strong over the years.
Ryan Gardner weddingI met my wife on a tour in 2011. My mom and I were on a trip in Costa Rica and took an overnight tour to Nicaragua. The tour guide didn’t speak any English, so to overcome the language barrier, she called her daughter (who is now my wife) to translate. We exchanged contact information and stayed in touch. I came back down to see her for a week in October. Less than two months later I moved to Nicaragua to work at the orphanage, and we began dating. Before I left, I proposed and we then went through the arduous process of getting her permanent residency. She came to the United States, and we were married in June 2013. Since then we have adopted our two “fur babies,” Jackson and Shea.
Ryan Gardner and wife Why did you choose to join the military?
It was a bit of a tradition for me. I’m the fourth generation in my family to serve. From a young age, I had it in my mind that I wanted to carry on that tradition. There’s something to be said about doing push-ups in the same spot as your grandfather was 60 years ago. It was also about adventure. I knew that I was going to have an opportunity see and do some fascinating things. I definitely was not disappointed.

Give us some highlights about your military career.
Two of my favorite memories are from my times overseas. In 2008 I was deployed to Saudi Arabia for six months. The two things I remember the most are the sandstorms and the heat. It was typically around 120 degrees every day, but we saw as hot as 136 degrees. My job as a member of the quick reaction force involved riding around in an up-armored Humvee—an oven on wheels! It hit 150 degrees inside the truck one day.

My other favorite experience is when I went to winter survival training in Norway. The Norwegian Army sends more than 100 of their troops to the Minnesota National Guard, and we send more than 100 to them for two weeks every other year. During this time we were embedded into their military and went into the mountains to learn survival skills. I don’t think I’ll ever forget taking snow baths (exactly what it sounds like), sleeping in a snow cave, or eating a raw grouse heart. Like I said before, I love adventures!

What are the greatest challenges that someone leaving the military and entering a new career faces?
I think one of the hardest challenges is creating the idea of how your military experience can be leveraged in corporate America. For me, that came in the form of risk assessments. When I was in the Air Force I routinely performed counterterrorism and explosive ordinance risk assessments. Contextually, this is a far cry from what we do here at the bank. However, on a conceptual basis, the overall process is the same. I have been lucky enough here at UMB to have found managers like Jenny Payne, Sara Flores and David Kling who recognized that potential and helped me make that connection.

What are your favorite hobbies?
I’ll always be a Minnesotan and my hobbies reflect that. I love to go camping, hiking, kayaking and snowboarding. How can you not enjoy being outdoors when you come from the land of 10,000 lakes? I also enjoy competing in mud runs. I’ve ranked in the top 5 percent of all Tough Mudders both times I competed in the event.

Where is your favorite place to travel?
I honestly don’t know if I can pick a favorite anymore. I swam with sharks in Belize, hiked the Inca Trail in Peru, tracked rhinos in Botswana and explored castles in Europe. So picking one place is difficult. The top item on my bucket list has always been to make it to 30 countries before I’m 30, and I’ve currently been to 25. There’s just something to be said about experiencing new cultures and places. I turned 27 this year, and my wife and I have a trip planned to go to five countries in Eastern Europe in September. So it looks like I’m going to reach my goal!
Ryan Gardner - ZimbabweWhat are your favorite ways to spend a weekend?
My favorite way to spend a weekend is with my dogs. We rescued a Jack Russell Terrier mix and a German Shepherd mix in the last two years. My wife and I spend most of our free time with them. They make great running/hiking partners (though the little guy usually wants to be carried home after a while).
Ryan Gardner with dogsHow did you come to be at UMB?
The story of how I came to UMB is quite serendipitous. My wife was offered a job here in Kansas City while we were still living in Minnesota, so we had a choice to make. Ultimately I decided that it was only fair that, since she moved to another country for me, I could move to another state for her. So I left my work at the VA and we headed to Kansas City. After a month or so of being here we came into the Walnut branch to open a local checking account. I was telling the personal banker about my story, and she ended up recommending me for the Emerging Leaders Program. I will forever be indebted to the unparalleled customer experience of UMB!

Mr. Gardner is a Vice President/Third-Party Monitoring Manager for UMB. He is responsible for support of UMB Financial Corporation’s Information Security Program through ongoing development, implementation and administration of the Company’s formal Fraud Risk Management Program. He joined UMB in 2014 and has six years of experience in risk management.

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Meet the Veterans: Steve Marin

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UMB is fortunate to have several veterans on our team, and we’re 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.

Q&A with Steve Marin, Lieutenant Colonel, Retired, U.S. Air Force
Steve Marin_retired USAF

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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.
Steve and Lisa Marin

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.
Steve and Lisa Marin family

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.
Operation Odyssey Dawn

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.
Steve Marin and son at Kansas City Chiefs game

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.

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