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Thursday, August 11, 2022
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Finance & Insurance

Long known for its robust commercial banking industry, North Carolina has become a magnet for global financial powers. The state’s relatively low costs and talent pool have prompted Dimensional Fund Advisors, Fidelity, TIAA, Vanguard and others to add tech or marketing centers. Still, locally owned financial institutions are showing resiliency and growth.

ADAM ABRAM

non-executive chair | James River Group

Raleigh

The Harvard graduate founded several N.C. financial and real estate companies, including insurer Front Royal, Piedmont Community Bank Holdings, which became Yadkin Financial, and developer Adaron Group. James River is an insurance holding company.

ANITA HUGHES BACHMANN

CEO | UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of North Carolina

Greensboro

A leader of the largest U.S. health insurer, Bachmann, 60, also chairs the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro and is on the boards of the Greensboro Chamber and NCWorks Commission. She has a master’s degree in health services administration from the Medical University of South Carolina.

North Carolina’s challenge: We have a considerable opportunity to make dramatic improvements. North Carolina ranks 41st in food insecurity and 30th in maternal mortality.

Favorite recent book: Think Again by Adam Grant. It is the perfect book for these times.

Something surprising: I sang for McDonald’s commercials.

CATHY BESSANT

chief operations and technology officer | Bank of America

Charlotte

Bessant, 60, leads a team of 95,000 people. American Banker consistently names the  University of Michigan graduate one of the most powerful women in banking.

First job: McDonald’s at age 16. My store’s motto: “If you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean.” I think of that almost every day.

Employer’s distinction: The company believes strongly that our role is to matter in the communities where we serve and to be a positive force for change, even when it’s controversial. In 1998, we were the first financial-services company to offer comprehensive domestic partner benefits; and most recently in 2020, we announced a $1 billion, four-year initiative to increase our commitment to community health services.

North Carolina’s challenge: The polarization of political and social views. Failure to compromise impacts everything from education to transportation to health care.

Something surprising: I’m terribly afraid of cliffs and edges, yet I summited the world’s tallest free-standing mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, a couple of years ago.

JEFF BROWN

CEO | Ally Financial

Charlotte

The former Bank of America treasurer joined Ally in 2009 and became CEO in 2015, helping its transition to digital financial services. Brown, 48, is a Clemson University graduate and has an executive MBA from Queens University of Charlotte, where he chairs the board of trustees.

Employer’s distinction: Every teammate plays a role in nurturing Ally’s culture.

Best advice: “Do what you say you will do.” (my dad)

People you most admire: Rick Hendrick and Hugh McColl

Favorite recent book: Essentialism by Greg McKeown. The disciplined pursuit of less is an important mantra I now practice.

RICHARD BRYANT

CEO | Capital Investment Companies

Raleigh

The Gastonia native, 61, co-founded the financial-services firm in 1984, soon after graduating from N.C. State University. Brokers affiliated with Capital manage about $8 billion in client assets.
North Carolina’s challenge: Persistent  population growth and gnawing political agendas

Best advice: Start a business with no people management, no receivables and no inventory.

Proud family accomplishment: My sons conquered overwhelming obstacles to become fine young men.

Favorite passions: Wife, music, cars, food and piddling

Person you admire: Queen Elizabeth II 

Something surprising: I am shy with a touch of introversion.

LARRY CARROLL

chairman emeritus | Carroll Financial Associates

Charlotte

The Austin Peay University graduate, 69, formed a firm that manages $4 billion in client assets.
Proud family accomplishment: Working alongside my son, Kris, for over 20 years

Favorite recent book: Kaleidoscope by Chip Bell 

Something surprising: In 1977, I won a regional pocket billiards tournament. And I haven’t played since.

DOUG CHITTENDEN

executive vice president, head of client relationships | TIAA

Charlotte

A TIAA employee for more than 30 years, Chittenden leads the unit that serves more than 15,000 universities and other retirement-plan sponsors. Last year, the Rutgers University graduate was named to the executive committee reporting to the company’s CEO.

RON DAY

founding director, president, CEO | First Carolina Financial Services

Raleigh

Day, 55, led an investor group that acquired the bank in 2012. The UNC Chapel Hill graduate moved the $1 billion bank’s headquarters from Rocky Mount and raised more than $30 million.
First job: Commercial banking credit analyst

Employer’s distinction: Entrepreneurial in a highly regulated industry

Best advice: “Make your plan.” (Kevin Shannon, my first boss)

Proud family accomplishment: Blessed to have the best wife, Lori, children, Elaine and Alex, parents and brothers in the world

Favorite passions: Family and golf

Favorite recent book: Is This Anything? by Jerry Seinfeld

CAROL DECKBAR

executive vice president, institutional investment and endowment services | TIAA

Charlotte

Deckbar was named to her current role in 2016 after leading the company’s asset management division. The Elon University graduate previously worked for Bank of America, Regions Bank and Evergreen Investments in Charlotte.

JIM DUNN

chief investment officer, CEO | Verger Capital

Winston-Salem

The former chief investment officer at Wake Forest University founded the company in 2014 and manages $1.9 billion in assets for nonprofit and endowment clients. Dunn, 48, played varsity soccer for Villanova University. He previously worked at Wilshire Capital Management in California.
First job: All sorts of tasks for a local firm on the Philadelphia Stock Exchange

Employer’s distinction: Building a purpose-driven culture in a numbers-driven world, which guides every aspect of our organization

Favorite recent book: Run to the Roar: Coaching to Overcome Fear by Paul Assaiante, the winningest coach in college sports history

PORTER DURHAM

managing director | Global Endowment Management

Charlotte

Durham and his team manage more than $8 billion in investments for mostly nonprofit and educational clients, including UNC Charlotte and RTI International. The Duke University School of Law graduate joined the company in 2007 after working for the Duke Endowment.

ROB EDWARDS

co-founder, partner | Ridgemont Equity Partners

Charlotte

The private-equity firm has invested more than $5 billion in middle-market companies since its founding in 1993. The graduate of UNC Chapel Hill and Harvard Business School previously worked for Bank of America and McKinsey & Co.

LEE FITE

Carolinas regional president | Fifth Third Bank

Charlotte

Fite, 49, joined the Cincinnati-based bank in 2007 after working for RBC and First Union. He’s overseen the bank’s Carolinas and Virginia markets since 2018. Fite has a bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University and a Wake Forest University MBA.
First job: Cutting grass

North Carolina’s challenge: We need to be a leader in education, workforce, second-chance opportunities and inclusion.

Best advice: My father taught me that I could control two things that make a difference: work ethic and caring for others.

CHARLES FREDERICK

N.C. market president | TD Bank

Asheville

Frederick has more than 35 years of local banking experience in his hometown. The Campbell University graduate has led TD Bank’s regional efforts since 2010. His great-great-grandfather was the president of Hendersonville’s First National Bank in the 1920s.

MIKE FRENO

president, chairman, CEO | Barings

Charlotte

The Wake Forest University graduate was tapped to lead the $354 billion financial-services company in 2020, succeeding longtime leader Tom Finke. Freno joined the MassMutual Insurance-owned company in 2005 and became president in February 2020.

CHARLES GRIGG

managing partner | Carousel Capital

Charlotte

The private equity group was started in 1996 by Erskine Bowles and Nelson Schwab to invest in Southeastern middle-market companies. Grigg joined the firm in 1997 after stints at Orion Partners and Smith Barney. He has a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a Wharton School MBA.

PETER GWALTNEY

president, CEO | North Carolina Bankers Association

Raleigh

Gwaltney has been the chief advocate for the state’s community banks since 2015, succeeding longtime leader Thad Woodard. The Louisiana State University graduate worked for the Bayou State’s banking association for 16 years before heading to Raleigh.

SCOTT RALLS

president, CEO | Truliant Federal Credit Union

Winston-Salem

The Wake Forest University MBA graduate succeeded credit union leader Marc Schaefer in 2020. He joined Truliant in 2012 as chief operating officer. Truliant has $2.7 billion in assets and 250,000 members.
Employer’s distinction: We improve lives through personal finance.

North Carolina’s challenge: Overcoming the detrimental impact of virtual learning on our K-12 students 

Proud family accomplishment: Our perseverance. Life constantly challenges every family, and ours is no different. Those issues require empathy, resilience and sacrifice. The demonstration and evolution of these traits created an undeniable bond between us.

RAMSEY HAMADI

CEO | Triad Business Bank

Greensboro

The Marine Corps veteran opened one of the state’s first new banks in a decade in March 2020 and achieved assets of
$221 million by Dec. 31. He previously worked for NewBridge Bank. He has an MBA from Maryville University of St. Louis.

JIM HANSEN

regional president, Eastern Carolinas | PNC

Raleigh

The N.C. State University and UNC Chapel Hill MBA graduate, 42, oversees the Pittsburgh-based bank’s operations from the Triangle to the coast. He chaired the Raleigh chamber and Research Triangle Regional Partnership.
First job: Soccer ref at age 12 

Employer’s distinction: PNC is a large financial institution and a Main Street bank that understands each community is different.

North Carolina’s challenge: Improving access to high-quality pre-K education. We can’t let our children fall behind.

Best advice: I lost my father when I was 21. He said facing adversity makes a person. Working on a solution makes a thoughtful person. Developing a solution makes a leader.

FRANK HOLDING JR.

EO | First Citizens Bancshares

Raleigh

He is a third-generation leader of the largest U.S. family-owned bank, which dates to 1898. The UNC Chapel Hill and Wharton MBA graduate is overseeing the $2 billion acquisition of CIT Group, creating a top 20 U.S. bank with $100 billion in assets. He is a former chairman of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

BOB INGRAM

general partner | Hatteras Venture Partners

Durham

Ingram is an iconic North Carolina leader who helps develop life-sciences companies through the private-equity firm. The Eastern Illinois University graduate retired as CEO of Glaxo Wellcome in 2003. He’s advised multiple presidents on health and cancer policy.

STEVE JONES

CEO | Dogwood State Bank

Raleigh

The East Carolina University graduate, 52, helped an investor group take over a Morehead City bank’s charter in 2017, then recapitalized and rebranded it with plans to go statewide. Jones previously had senior posts at RBC and Yadkin Bank. He formerly chaired ECU’s board.
First job: Waiter

Employer’s distinction: Dogwood is a blend of unique individuals committed to great customer experience for small businesses.

Best advice: “Relationships are built between transactions.” (Dogwood Executive Chairman Scott Custer)

Favorite passions: Playing golf and family time

Something surprising: I do yoga. I’m not very good at it.

KELLY KING

chairman, CEO | Truist Financial

Charlotte

Over nearly 50 years, the Wake County native helped guide BB&T to become one of the largest banks in the country. The East Carolina University graduate led the merger in 2019 with SunTrust that created the nation’s sixth-largest bank. He succeeded John Allison as BB&T’s CEO in 2009 and is stepping down in September. King, 72, has been a key civic leader, chairing the NC Rural Center and many other Triad and statewide groups.
First job: I’ve spent my entire 49-year career with Truist. Since my first position as a BB&T commercial lending officer, I’ve held various roles in commercial and retail banking, operations, insurance, corporate financial services, investment services and capital markets. I completed the BB&T Management Development Program in 1972.

Employer’s distinction: We’re creating a diverse and inclusive workplace where our teammates are able to align their personal purpose with our company’s purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities. We boldly believe in the power of what we can achieve together.

Person you admire: Viktor E. Frankl, who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning, one of my five favorite books. He was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher, author and Holocaust survivor. His mother, father, brother and pregnant wife were all killed in the camps. In his book, Frankl shares that, even at Auschwitz, some prisoners were able to discover meaning in their lives —  if only in helping one another through the day — and that those discoveries were what gave them the will and strength to endure. He says that if you know your why, you can bear almost any how. I have found that knowing my why is both energizing and fills me with the passion to face almost any challenge.

Something surprising: In college, one of my side jobs was selling Filter Queen vacuum cleaners door to door. At the time, these vacuum cleaners were high-quality and a fairly significant purchase for people in eastern North Carolina. This helped me learn all kinds of lessons about overcoming challenges. My favorite memory of this difficult job is when the husband of a customer called me the day after to congratulate me on successfully selling the vacuum cleaner to his wife. It turns out they had no carpet in their house.

DOUG LEBDA

founder, chairman, CEO | LendingTree

Charlotte

The University of Virginia graduate founded the online marketplace in 1996. LendingTree’s market value is about $3 billion. Lebda, who owned 16.5% as of April 2020, received compensation of $110 million between 2017 and 2019.

MICHAEL LORD

president, CEO | State Employees Credit Union

Raleigh

Lord, 68, succeeded longtime leader Jim Blaine in 2016 after serving as chief financial officer. The N.C. State University graduate is retiring in August.
Employer’s distinction: SECU has more than 2.5 million members, 271 branch offices and 1,100 ATMs. 

North Carolina’s challenge: Recovery from the impacts of the pandemic

Best advice: Colin Powell’s rules of leadership:
1.    It ain’t as bad as you think.
2.    It can be done.
3.    Be careful what you choose. You may get it.
4.    Check small things.
5.    Share credit.
6.    Remain calm. Be kind.

MARY MACK

consumer banking | Wells Fargo

Fort Mill, S.C.

The Davidson College graduate, 58, is among the bank’s highest-ranking executives in North Carolina, where it employs more than 35,000. She is CEO of consumer and small business banking.
Favorite passion: Mary Warner Mack Dog Park in Fort Mill, S.C., which honors her late daughter, who died of meningitis

Proud family accomplishment: My daughters, an ICU nurse for COVID-19 patients in Charlotte and a fourth-grade public school teacher in Baltimore. I couldn’t be prouder of the sacrifices they’re making for all of us.

Favorite recent book: Untamed by Glennon Doyle

CHIP MAHAN

founder, chairman, CEO | Live Oak Bancshares

Wilmington

Mahan founded the bank to focus on Small Business Administration lending in 2008 after a three-decade career in banking and financial technology. The Washington & Lee University graduate also is a co-founder of software vendor nCino and the Canapi Ventures investment firm.

RICK MANSKE

CEO | Parsec Financial

Weaverville

The Western Michigan University graduate, 51, runs an investment adviser based in downtown Asheville. His team oversees nearly $3.5 billion in assets under management.
Employer’s distinction: Parsec celebrated 40 years in business this past year and is well-positioned for further growth.

North Carolina’s challenge: The quality of civil discourse concerns me. Solutions are most likely found in compromise and collaboration, not a winner-take-all  mentality.

Person you admire: Bill Gates for his philanthropy, communications skills and modesty

Favorite recent book: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

AARON MARCUS

head of global human resources | Dimensional Fund Advisors

Charlotte

Marcus is a top executive at the Austin, Texas-based money manager, which opened its East Coast headquarters in Charlotte in 2019. The Brown University graduate joined DFA in 2008 after 14 years at Goldman Sachs. DFA advises on about $600 billion.

REID MARKS

Triad region president | Pinnacle Financial

Greensboro

Marks worked for Bank of America for 26 years then Regions Bank for five before joining Pinnacle predecessor BNC Bancorp in 2009. The Wake Forest University graduate leads the Nashville-based bank’s Triad market, which has about 400 employees.

MIKE MAYER

president | First Bancorp

Southern Pines

Mayer, 61, has helped the Southern Pines bank grow to more than $7 billion in assets since joining in 2014. The Clemson University graduate led two other community banks after more than two decades at Bank of America.
First job: Credit analyst at NCNB

North Carolina’s challenge: Disparity in our communities. Two counties drive half of our state’s growth. Half of our counties have no growth.

Best advice: From my son while golfing when he was 9. We came to a hole with a lake between tee and green. I was coaching him on how to avoid hitting his ball into the water. He said, “Dad, I’m aiming my shot at the flag. Why are you talking about the lake?” It’s important to focus on success, not failure.

Proud family accomplishment: My two children are hard-working young adults with strong values cemented in their faith and dedicated to serving others. I am blessed.

Favorite passion: Walking on the beach or a golf course

Person you admire: Wendy Hales, First Bank’s executive vice president. She reminds me to never fear the storm, but instead, be the storm.

Decision you would change: Ones that kept me away from important moments in my children’s lives. All I remember is what I missed, not what I did.

Favorite recent book: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Something surprising: I make candles. It’s the only thing I do that makes the world smell better.

BRIAN MCCARTHY

global head, Investment Management Group Operational Risk | Vanguard Group

Charlotte

McCarthy, 49, has worked his way up to be a senior leader at the giant money manager, which is based in Malvern, Pa. The Boston College graduate earned an MBA from St. Joseph’s University.
Employer’s distinction: We are 100% focused on our clients and giving investors the best chance for investment success.

Best advice: “Don’t spend all your time trying to make the right decision. Invest in making the decision right.” (my dad)

Favorite passion: Coaching lacrosse

Favorite recent book: Lead … for God’s Sake! by Todd Gongwer

ED MCMAHAN

managing partner | Falfurrias Capital Partners

Charlotte

The UNC Chapel Hill graduate, 46, co-founded the private equity firm with Hugh McColl Jr. and Marc Oken in 2006. He has a Northwestern University MBA.
First job: Analyst at Bowles Hollowell Conner

Employer’s distinction: A team of low-ego, highly effective, collaborative investors

North Carolina’s challenge: Economic mobility for low-income families

Best advice: “Decide what to be and go be it.”  (The Avett Brothers)

Proud family accomplishment: My wife and I have three wonderful daughters.

Person you admire: Dean Smith

Favorite recent book: The River Why by David James Duncan

Favorite music: Jam bands 

Something surprising: I recently helped start Charlotte Life Navigators, a nonprofit that funds neighborhood advocates who work with families to create financial stability and economic mobility.

FIELDING MILLER

CEO | Captrust

Raleigh

Miller, 60, co-founded the Raleigh money-management company in 1997 after working for Interstate/Johnson Lane. His firm advises on more than $300 billion in clients’ assets. Chicago-based GTCR bought a 25% stake last year.
Best advice: “Every adversity, every failure, and every heartache carries with it the seed of an equivalent or a greater benefit.”  (Napoleon Hill)

Proud family accomplishment: Kim, my wife of 38 years, has made me a better man in countless ways.

Person you admire: Many, all of whom have the same characteristics: authenticity, integrity, humility, a good sense of humor and the grit to persevere.

RICHARD MOORE

CEO | First Bancorp

Raleigh

Moore, 60, has led the state’s largest community bank since 2012, after serving two terms as state treasurer. The Wake Forest University law school graduate manages more than 100 branches, 1,000 employees and $7 billion in assets. He also earned a graduate degree from the London School of Economics.
North Carolina’s challenge: Wealth inequality and its relationship to the growing rural-urban divide

Best advice: My parents said to always treat everyone the way you would like to be treated.

Favorite recent book: The British Are Coming by Rick Atkinson

SUZANNE MORRISON

executive vice president, division executive for commercial banking | Wells Fargo

Charlotte

The UNC Chapel Hill graduate, 49, oversees commercial banking in the Carolinas for businesses with as much as $2 billion in revenue.

First job: Working at a Chinese restaurant at age 15

Employer’s distinction: Wells Fargo has supported customers and invested heavily in our region for decades. 

Proud family accomplishment: My husband has had great success in the technology industry. Our girls are bright, independent, caring people. One is at Indiana University; the other is in middle school.

Something surprising: I was an arm-wrestling champion in kindergarten.

ROBERT NEWELL

president | Franklin Street Partners

Chapel Hill

After retiring as president of Wachovia Trust in 2009, he joined the investment advisory firm. Newell, 62, is an N.C. State University graduate.
First job: Janitor and landscaper at Putt-Putt

Employer’s distinction: North Carolina-centric and focused

North Carolina’s challenge: Jobs

Best advice: “Do a good job today and tomorrow will take care of itself.” (John Medlin, former Wachovia CEO)

Proud family accomplishment: We love each other unconditionally.

Person you admire: George W. Bush

Favorite recent book: Waiting for Snow in Havana by Carlos Eire

Something surprising: My granddad’s name is Bobo.

AMANDA NORTON

chief risk officer | Wells Fargo

Charlotte

Norton, 54, became the first female chief risk officer for a major U.S. bank in 2018. The University of Bath graduate had been a senior risk executive at JPMorgan Chase.
North Carolina’s challenge: Income inequality. About 14% of residents live in poverty.

Best advice: My dad said, “Don’t define yourself by the decision but by your response to the decision. Do everything you can to help this person succeed.”

Favorite passion: Encouraging more women to get into mathematics and jump out of their comfort zones

Favorite recent book: Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

MICHAEL PAINTER

co-founder, managing partner | Plexus Capital

Raleigh

The UNC Chapel Hill graduate co-founded the investment company in 2005. It has raised $1.5 billion and made more than 125 investments. He previously worked for RBC Bank’s Centura Capital investment fund, along with other financial firms in Raleigh and New York.

ART PAPPAS

founder, managing general partner | Pappas Capital

Durham

The veteran investor has infused more than
$540 million in life-sciences companies 
since his firm opened in 1994. He previously had senior posts for GlaxoSmithKline, Abbott and Dow Chemical. He has a bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University and an Xavier University MBA.

EDWIN POSTON

co-founder, general partner | TrueBridge Capital Partners

Chapel Hill

The former head of private equity at the Rockefeller Foundation co-founded the firm with Mel Williams in 2007. Investments have included Airbnb, Dropbox and Slack. A graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, Poston also has law and MBA degrees from Emory University.   

CHUCK PURVIS

president, CEO | Coastal Federal Credit Union

Raleigh

The UNC Greensboro graduate, 63, has worked in the credit union industry for 40 years, including the last nine leading Coastal.
First job: Grocery store produce department clerk 

Employer’s distinction: We were among the first Triangle employers to establish a $15 minimum wage.

North Carolina’s challenge: Education. We spend a lot of money on education but only nibble around the edges of transforming our educational systems. We need to use technology to transform education.

Proud family accomplishment: My wife, Gail, and I will celebrate our 35th anniversary this year. She is the rock of our marriage and family.

Favorite passion: Anything at our second home on Hyco Lake with family and friends.

People you admire: My parents’s work ethic. They grew up during the Great Depression. Dad spent his life in sales, mainly cars. Mom was a secretary for an orthodontist for more than 40 years. 

Decision you would change: Selling Apple stock in 2016 when I changed advisers

Favorite music: Country, ’70s disco and Carolina beach music

DAVID REA

president | Salem Investment Counselors

Winston-Salem

Salem ranked No. 1 on CNBC’s list of top financial advisory firms two years in a row. The Wake Forest University School of Law and Indiana University MBA graduate, 65, worked for a big accounting firm before joining Salem in 1984.
First job: Legal intern at Blue Bell Corp.

Favorite recent book: Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

Favorite music: Jazz

Something surprising: I have eight grandchildren and one more on the way.

BRIAN REID

Triangle banking president | TowneBank

Raleigh

The Ohio State University graduate, 53, worked for Paragon Bank before its sale in 2018, helping it grow to more than $1 billion in Triangle assets.

First job: Landscaping and car washing

North Carolina’s challenge: Regulatory pressures and taxes

Best advice: Embrace your current stage in life.

Family accomplishment: My five adult children, ages 20 to 26, inspire me daily.

Favorite passion: Being outdoors

People you admire: Mrs. Ward, my high school business teacher, and Bob Hatley, the founding CEO of Paragon Bank

Favorite recent book: The Little Book of Do! by Kel Landis

LEE ROBERTS

managing partner | SharpVue Capital

Raleigh

The former state budget director, 52, founded the Raleigh investment company in 2016. He has a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a law degree from Georgetown University.

Employer’s distinction: We invest in private real estate and private credit, doing deals below the radar of the big institutions but larger than most “pass the hat” investments.

North Carolina’s challenge: Widely varying rates of growth across our state affect virtually every public policy issue.

Proud family accomplishment: Our teenagers occasionally still want to spend time with us.

Favorite recent book: Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

WILLIAM “BILL” ROGERS JR.

president, chief operating officer | Truist Financial

Charlotte

The Greensboro native, 61, will become CEO in September after helping lead the merger with BB&T. The UNC Chapel Hill graduate joined Atlanta-based SunTrust in 1980 and became CEO in 2011.
North Carolina’s challenge: The pressing inequities facing many communities that were magnified by the pandemic

Decision I would have reversed: I would have emphasized purpose earlier in my career to make an even greater impact for our teammates, clients and communities. In 2016, SunTrust formalized our purpose of lighting the way to financial well-being by launching the onUp Movement. It has helped more than 5 million people achieve financial confidence.

Something surprising: I spent five years of my childhood in Mexico. 

JIM ROSE

state president | United Community Bank

Raleigh

The Wake Forest University graduate, 54, oversees more than 30 branches in the state for the Blairsville, Ga.-based bank, which he joined in 2017. He previously worked for Yadkin Bank.
First job: Janitor at my father’s auto-parts warehouse

North Carolina’s challenge: Our teachers and first responders deserve more pay.

Best advice: “Be the hardest worker wherever you are.” (my father)

Favorite passion: Playing the guitar

Person you admire: My wife, who has a heart of gold

Decision you would change: I turned down an internship with Goldman Sachs.

Favorite recent book: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Favorite music: Blues

Something surprising: I have performed at two wedding ceremonies and four funerals.

ROBERT RUSSO

founder, CEO | Independent Advisor Alliance

Charlotte

The University of Tennessee graduate founded his company in 2013 to assist independent investment advisers affiliated with firms including LPL Financial, Fidelity Investments, Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade. The business has grown to more than 216 advisers. He previously founded another advisory firm, Blackbridge Financial.

JASON SANDNER

chief operating officer | Curi

Raleigh

The Towson University graduate will succeed Dale Jenkins as CEO in July. He joined the company, formerly Medical Mutual of North Carolina, in 2011. Curi offers liability insurance and other services for physicians. He is on the UNC Rex Healthcare board.

JIM SILLS

CEO | M&F Bancorp

Durham

The Morehouse College graduate, 62, has led the second-oldest Black-owned U.S. bank since 2014. He’s a banking industry veteran and former chief information officer for the state of Delaware.

First job: Statistician

North Carolina’s challenge: Providing support to small- and medium-size businesses

Best advice: “Work hard every day and be yourself.” (my dad)

Proud family accomplishment: My wife of 39 years and I have raised three daughters to be business leaders. 

Favorite passion: Tennis

Person you admire: Reginald Lewis, the first African American to build a billion-dollar company

Favorite music: R&B, especially Sade

ANDREA SMITH

chief administrative officer | Bank of America

Charlotte

A top executive at the second-biggest U.S. bank, Smith, 54, also is a key Charlotte leader, co-chairing the Leading on Opportunity Council. Her day job involves making sure BofA operates smoothly in 90 markets while helping integrate its eight business lines. The Southern Methodist University graduate previously led Global Human Resources.

First job: I started working at a small bank when I was in the eighth grade, then I worked at a small bank while in college. It had 24 employees, so I got to do almost every job over four years. I loved making connections with my customers. When I graduated in 1988, I started working at a bigger local bank that was ultimately acquired by Bank of America. Here I am 33 years later doing what I love.

Employer’s distinction: Bank of America has always been focused on doing what is right for our customers, teammates and communities. By collaborating with other companies, governments and nonprofits, we’re able to drive sustainable long-term change — for good. Our $1 billion four-year initiative to help create opportunity for people and communities of color is investing in health and health care, creating jobs and reskilling the workforce, supporting small businesses and affordable housing. These are areas where systemic, long-term gaps have existed and where change is essential.

Favorite passions: Spending time with my family, and we’re crazy about any kind of sport, watching them or playing them. I am spending more time on my golf game and am thrilled to be serving on the PGA of America board, which is focused on changing the face of golf. 

Person you admire: Hands down, my mother. My parents divorced when I was young. She raised three kids, worked full time and put herself through undergraduate then graduate school to get her master’s in social work, so she could fulfill her passion of helping others. I grew up watching her juggle both a family and a career. Although we didn’t have a lot, we always made room at our table for others. She taught us about sacrifice, hard work, being true to yourself and the importance of giving back. 

GREGORY SMITH

president, CEO | Smith Salley & Associates

Greensboro

With a bachelor’s degree from N.C. State University and a UNC Chapel Hill MBA, he co-founded the Greensboro wealth management firm with Mackay Salley in 2003. The duo previously worked for Franklin Street Partners. The firm has more than $1.6 billion under management. 

TUNDE SOTUNDE

president, CEO | Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina

Durham

The native of Nigeria, 55, previously managed Medicaid services for health insurance giant Anthem before joining the state’s largest health insurer in 2020. The pediatrician is a graduate of the University of Ibadan College of Medicine in Nigeria. He has a University of Memphis MBA.

Employer’s distinction: We purposefully focus on improving the health and well-being of our customers and communities. We won’t stop until health care is better for all.

North Carolina’s challenge: Health inequity. Pre-pandemic, the state’s health system ranked poorly for health disparities. Minority and low-income communities have been disproportionately impacted by the virus.

Best advice: “You never give up. No matter how hard or difficult things may get, if it’s the right thing to do.” (my mother)

Person you admire: Dr. David Satcher, a former surgeon general

ERIC STEIGERWALT

president, CEO | Brighthouse Financial

Charlotte

The Drew University graduate joined MetLife in 1998 and has led Brighthouse, a large annuity seller, since its spinoff in 2017. The company had a $3.8 billion market cap in late March. He is on the Charlotte Executive Leadership Council, a CEO group.

DANA STONESTREET

president, chairman, CEO | HomeTrust Bank

Asheville

The West Liberty State College graduate, 67, joined the bank in 1989 and gained the top post in 2013. It’s the second-largest North Carolina community bank with assets of $3.7 billion.
First job: Working on my dad’s cattle ranch

Best advice: People don’t do things to you, they do things for themselves.

Proud family accomplishment: Jana Stonestreet, my wife of 47 years 

Favorite passion: Spending time with my wife

Favorite recent book: Principles by Ray Dalio

Favorite music: Jazz

Something surprising: Our son and daughter were born on the same day at 3:55 a.m., two years apart.

SOPHIA WAJNERT

Research Triangle Park site manager | Credit Suisse

Raleigh

The American University graduate has overseen the financial-services company’s $100 million, 1,200-job North Carolina expansion announced in 2019. After working for Deutsche Bank, she joined Credit Suisse in 2008 and now leads its global culture strategy initiative.

JOHN WARD

executive vice president for the Triangle and eastern North Carolina | Wells Fargo

Raleigh

Ward, 56, leads the bank’s work with eastern North Carolina businesses. He’s an East Carolina University graduate who joined First Union in 1988.

First job: Grass cutting

North Carolina’s challenge: The growing divide between metro and rural areas   

Best advice: “Put yourself out there. Don’t wait on others to notice you.” (my dad)

Favorite passions: Running and exercising

Favorite recent book: I Love Capitalism! An American Story by Ken Langone

Something surprising: I play guitar and was a member of a rock band in high school.

MARY WILLIS

president, CEO | Fidelity Bank

Fuquay-Varina

Willis has led the 111-year-old bank since 2010 after starting there as a part-time teller at age 17 in 1987. It now has 54 locations and $2.6 billion in assets. The East Carolina University graduate has spent her entire career at the company.

RON WOOTEN

co-founder, managing partner | NovaQuest Capital Management

Raleigh

The UNC Chapel Hill graduate and former NFL player helped lead the private equity firm’s spinout in 2010 from the former Quintiles, now Iqvia. It manages
$2.75 billion in life-sciences and health care investments. Other founders include John Bradley and Jonathan Tunnicliffe.

MARK YUSKO

founder, chief investment officer, CEO | Morgan Creek Capital Management

Chapel Hill

After managing UNC Chapel Hill’s investments for six years, Yusko in 2004 founded his own company with $1.5 billion under management as of January. Yusko, who is active in cryptocurrency investing, has a bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame University and a University of Chicago MBA.