For many professionals, earning a vice president position at a major bank would signify the culmination of their professional career.
For Chukwukere Ekeh, it’s just the beginning.
At age 24, the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith graduate was recently named vice president of retail marketing at Renasant Bank, where he oversees retail marketing for all of the company’s banks in Georgia and Florida.
The position, located in Atlanta, is a huge step forward for the North Little Rock native, who previously worked as a marketing officer at Citizens Bank in Van Buren after graduating from UAFS in 2015 with a degree in business administration. But when the bank reached out to him about the position after hearing about Ekeh’s talents, he didn’t shy away from the challenge.
“My parents always told me that I should try to do whatever I think I’m capable of. No matter the challenge, I’ve always thought great things are possible and can be the norm as long as you try for it,” Ekeh said.
Ekeh kept that same mindset during his time at UAFS, where he pursued plenty of opportunities. He was a member of the Chancellor’s Leadership Council, a prestigious scholarship program for potential leaders with a three-hour course taught by Chancellor Paul B. Beran.
He also played on the Lions basketball team and participated in the Mentor Connections program through the university’s alumni office, which paired him with an executive mentor to provide him professional development.
“The Mentor Connections program gave me time with big-time business leaders from our area,” Ekeh said. “I got to sit in on company board meetings, network with local area executives, and have the free reign to pick some of the River Valley’s great business minds.”
When Ekeh learned of the vice president position, he saw an opportunity for personal and professional growth in a new area.
“I was excited about the opportunity to go to a bigger market and see a different lifestyle and culture. The opportunity to step up like that was appealing,” he said. “I just felt like I could take that leap.”
The bank felt the same. To his surprise, he was offered the position.
“I was kind of taken aback. You never think of a vice president being 24 years old,” he said. “I never thought an opportunity would present itself to me at this age.”
It marks the beginning of what Ekeh plans to be a fruitful career in corporate marketing.
“In my senior yearbook, my parents took out an ad for me and used the quote by Winston Churchill: ‘history will be kind to me, for I intend to write it,’” Ekeh said. “That quote means a lot to me, and I actually had it printed on my old business cards because it serves as a reminder that each day I write a page of my legacy. That I alone hold the pen and can write an incredible story.”
About the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith
The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith is the premiere regional institution of Western Arkansas, connecting education with careers and serving as a driver of economic development and quality of place in the greater Fort Smith region. Small class sizes, dedicated faculty and staff, affordable tuition rates, and a diverse on-campus culture allow UAFS students to fully explore their areas of interest in ways that prepare them for post-graduate success academically, professionally, and personally. To find out what makes UAFS just right for you, go to www.uafs.edu.