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CEO, Summit Bank
Ann Marie Mehlum, MBA 81, got an early introduction to banking, helping her father wrap rolls of pennies at the kitchen table after dinner when she was just 12 years old. At the time, of course, neither of them knew Mehlum would follow so closely in her father's footsteps.
Mehlum's father started Siuslaw Bank in the little lumber town of Mapleton, Ore., where Mehlum eventually worked in almost every position during her school vacations. When she landed a credit analyst job at Wells Fargo after college, she discovered she knew a lot more about banking than she initially realized. Her knowledge and hard work also caught the attention of Gina Husby, one of only two female senior vice presidents, who recommended Mehlum for a selective management training program and the Haas School's Evening & Weekend MBA Program.
"I wouldn't have gotten onto the fast track without Gina's help," Mehlum says. "She understood the value a mentor could have on a person's career, and I was a very fortunate recipient of her generosity and advice."
After earning her MBA, Mehlum's career took a more entrepreneurial turn when she took a job helping Los Angeles-based Manufacturer's Bank open a San Francisco office.
Then her mom died. The Siuslaw Bank board asked Mehlum to return to Oregon and help run the bank while her dad grieved. When he was firmly back in the saddle a few years later, a team of execs approached Mehlum about joining them in starting a new local bank. "I was 50 and ready for a new challenge," she says.
After helping to raise $10 million from local investors, Mehlum and her new executive team opened Summit Bank, Eugene's first startup bank in 25 years, in 2004. Their vision, Mehlum says, was to build a bank where local businesses could rely on high-quality financial help, benefit from current technology, and put their deposits to use locally for the benefit of their vendors, clients, and community.
"We get to help move the local economy forward," Mehlum says. "And besides, you meet people doing the most interesting things. While I'm working with these small companies to help them grow, I'm living the life of an entrepreneur vicariously through them." –Rosemary Camozzi