Leader Q&A: Aaron Randolph’s transition from exercise science to commercial banking
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Aaron Randolph serves as vice president, commercial relationship manager at UMB Bank. Learn about Aaron’s career trajectory at UMB – starting as an associate in the bank’s Emerging Leader Program – and how his intangible skill set brings value to clients and colleagues alike.
Tell us a little about yourself and what led you to UMB.
The beginning of my professional career was outside of banking and my path to UMB was nontraditional. I have an educational background in exercise science, and I worked in collegiate athletics for the first several years of my professional career prior to UMB. During that time, I completed both my MBA in general business and my doctorate in education. Through my educational experiences, I realized that I had interests and skills that could be applied outside of athletics, and once I finished my doctorate in instructional leadership in 2012, I joined UMB through the Emerging Leader Program (ELP).
The path to UMB was guided by my father, Barry Randolph, who spent his entire career in banking and retired as CEO of Wood and Huston Bank. Wood and Huston is a long-time correspondent bank customer of UMB’s, therefore my father was familiar with UMB’s history and strength as a commercial bank. It was my father’s recommendation and introduction to UMB executive vice president, Andre Trudell, that led to my start at UMB.
How was your transition to the banking industry?
Joining the ELP was the perfect transition to banking for me. Being largely unfamiliar with the bank and commercial banking at first, the ELP allowed me time to learn about the various business lines that make up the bank while further putting into practice the leadership skills developed in school. Although the career transition aligned perfectly with where I was as a professional, the physical transition was not without its difficulties. Since the ELP was based in Kansas City and my wife and I lived in St. Louis, I rented an apartment in Kansas City and would stay in the area during the week, then go back home to St. Louis on the weekends. My wife was less than thrilled to be without me during the week but was supportive through the process and it ultimately worked out for the best. While it was a major life and career transition, the connections I made and the knowledge I gained were paramount in my future success.
About three months into the program, I identified an opportunity for a permanent position in our St. Louis office as a regional credit analyst for the commercial banking team. After interviewing for the position, the St. Louis team selected me to fill the role once my initial credit training was completed. As such about nine months into the ELP I was able to move back to St. Louis and start the next stage of my career as the regional credit analyst for UMB Bank St. Louis.
Approximately a year into the credit analyst role, I sensed what it would take for me to move into the next stage of my career as a lender. What I needed to do was prove to the team that I could identify, underwrite, sell and close quality opportunities for the bank. Therefore, in my spare time I developed a prospect list and began making calls on my own and with some of the other officers. In time, I was able to close several new lending opportunities for the bank as an analyst, showcasing my skills in both business development and underwriting. By year three in St. Louis, I had essentially pivoted into a business development role.
Who have been your mentors along the way at UMB?
All of my development and success have been a direct reflection of the many mentors I have had along the way. The list of mentors is likely 100 names deep.
Initially and still today Chris Bingham plays an integral role in my development. Chris was the person who initially hired me into the ELP, was my first manager and guided me toward commercial banking. Our educational backgrounds and mutual understanding of leadership connected us early on and has continued to keep us engaged today.
Chris also introduced me to Tony Mayfield early in the ELP process. Tony and I have had the same level of connection all grounded in our position and style of leadership. Tony regularly challenges me to put my leadership education and training into practice from a day-to-day perspective.
From a credit standpoint all of my knowledge was initially gained through working with Tom Hof, Mark Winker and Brad Smith. Tom Hof was my first manager back in St. Louis and allowed me to sit in and help with the local credit committee meetings. He regularly challenged me to think about credits not as a lender but as an approver and with a credit mind first before a sales mind. Brad Smith and Mark Winker helped me to put that thought process into play when calling and underwriting new and existing opportunities. Today, these and others like Dave Naunheim and Jim Sangster continue to help me think through more complex deals and situations.
On the sales side of things, you couldn’t dream up better people to watch and learn from than Peter Blumeyer, Tom Lally, Michael Garner and Dan Genovese. Each has their own unique style of telling UMB’s story and showcasing our strengths to clients and prospects. This helped me to develop and realize my own style which I refine constantly.
Peter specifically continues to further guide my growth and have my best interests in mind. His ability to navigate the inner workings of the organization and fight for his market is unmatched. Between Peter and Tom Lally I am getting firsthand experience of what it takes to lead a team and a market with a people-centric focus driving performance.
In summary, I have been blessed with many mentors that span the various functions of my role and the bank. From sales to underwriting to market leadership the numerous mentors have given me the ability to think not only like a lender but a like a leader.
What are your proudest memories and accomplishments at the bank?
It’s always incredible to achieve business goals and I am grateful for those around me that have supported these efforts along the way. However, I am equally proud to be a trusted source for other associates. When I started at UMB, banking was an entirely new world to me, and I happened to have some incredible mentors to guide me on the path to success. I take pride in the fact that associates feel comfortable enough to seek guidance from me about their own careers and goals. Knowing that I can provide advice or mentorship to others within the bank is very important to me. Being trusted by others either inside or outside of the bank is highest accomplishment in my book.
If you were giving advice to someone transitioning into the banking industry now, what would it be?
I learned quickly that trust is the foundation for success in this industry. It’s similar to any personal or professional relationship; to be a successful partner for clients and colleagues, you need to focus on intangible and interpersonal skills like self-awareness, responsibility, patience and dependability. It doesn’t matter if you are the smartest in the room if you don’t know how to effectively work with others.
While these are not skills you learn in a finance class, they ultimately lead to success in this industry. From there, you can hone your craft while receiving support from your colleagues. In this industry, colleagues and clients need to work with someone they can trust, and building that trust has been at the center of my growth within the bank.
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