Geoff Greenwade ’83 describes his successful 30-year banking career as “a path of accidents.” While speaking with a group of Business Honors students at Mays Business School, he encouraged them to learn how to recognize these hidden opportunities that have contributed to his success.
Greenwade is the president and chief executive officer of Greenbank, a leading Texas bank for commercial lending and personal banking services. Before joining Greenbank in 2008, Greenwade held positions at Bank of America and Wells Fargo. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Texas A&M University and an MBA from Baylor University.
While speaking of his time at Texas A&M, he encouraged students to take advantage of all of the opportunities available, stressing the importance of networking with fellow classmates and learning the art of balance. “The [Aggie] ring gets you an invite to an elite club,” he said. “Take full advantage of it.”
He also emphasized the importance of finding opportunities in unconventional places. Greenwade’s pointers included sitting next to the most important person in the room, actively listening and asking purposeful questions. “Your career path will not fall into your lap. You are the only one who can actively manage it,” he said. “Learn to be in the right place at the right time.”
Business Honors major Carly Hicks ’19 said she appreciated Greenwade’s transparency, noting her biggest takeaway was that oftentimes one’s career seems to just fall into place by being open-minded. “What I found most striking is that Mr. Greenwade originally pursued his career for a trivial reason, but ended up loving it and being good at it,” she said. “Thus, his success in and love for his career came from what could be seen as an accident.”
Greenwade said the most important step when beginning a career is to honestly evaluate your strengths and passions. “Choosing a path that you are passionate about will benefit you longer than the salary will,” he said.
“My greatest insight from this luncheon was how to use strengths to your advantage,” said Business Honors student Christina Chan ’17. “Mr. Greenwade has the strength of individualization, and this strength was easy to see when he went around the table asking about each individual student.”
Additional advice Greenwade gave students included identifying your priorities and recognizing the importance of character. Greenwade told the students: “Business revolves around character. To be successful you need the right employees, the right customers and supportive shareholders, and you will not get those without having strong character.”
In closing, Greenwade advised students to “show up every day and work harder than everyone around you.” He added: “Success isn’t about how smart you are, but how hard you work.”
Business Honors major Trevor Pownell ’18 commented afterward on Greenwade’s easygoing, friendly demeanor. “I left Mr. Greenwade’s luncheon feeling reassured and carrying a newfound interest in the banking world,” Pownell said. “His eclectic path to success was extremely insightful on how to handle upcoming life decisions.”