At COBA, we are deeply passionate about the fact that faith and business should intersect, which is why we invite speakers like Mike Wolverton, Executive Vice President of First Financial Banks, to speak to our students. We love hearing what these successful businesspeople have to say about business and the challenges and opportunities that are presented when you are a person of faith.
Mike, who began his banking career by taking an entry-level job in consumer finance, is a textbook example of climbing the corporate ladder one step at a time. After his stint as a trainee at Wells Fargo, Mike was promoted to store manager, where he supervised a few employees. Next, he made the jump to regional manager, where he was responsible for forty stores, before being promoted once again. This time, he became a division manager, an incredibly powerful position that allowed him to manage a quarter of the country for Wells Fargo in the consumer lending division.
Mike made sacrifices for his career. One of the challenges for his family was moving nine times in 26 years. In spite of the challenges, it appeared that Mike’s sacrifices were paying off. After all, he was a division manager. However, in 2008, everything changed. Wells Fargo closed Mike’s division, a segment of the company that had been in business for over one hundred years. After twenty-six years of faithful service, Mike found himself out of a job.
During this difficult time, Mike clung to Jeremiah 29:11:
“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
After losing his job at Wells Fargo, Mike began working at First Financial, a bank that was ranked #2 in the nation in 2012 and that is headquartered right here in Abilene, TX. First Financial brought Mike in to grow their consumer lending business. Mike really enjoys his new position, and believes that First Financial is an incredible company. “They’ve been doing it right for a long time,” said Mike.
One thing Mike enjoys about his work at First Financial is that because the company has a culture of faith, he is able to pray with his team, something that wasn’t possible at Wells Fargo. Faith as a part of business is crucial to Mike, something that he advised students to incorporate into their lives.
“The work force today is really looking for hard-working, dedicated Christian individuals. Integrity today is more important than ever in business.”
Mike also believes that living out faith in the workplace eventually leads to corporate success. This success may take time, but eventually, being a person of faith will get you places. In his opinion, integrity will always win out in the end.
Stay tuned for more inspiring COBA speakers!