Bill Rogers SunTrust CEO speaks to an auditorium of students

SunTrust CEO meets with, gives advice to UF Warrington students

GAINESVILLE, Fla. –  William H. Rogers, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of SunTrust Banks, Inc., visited the University of Florida Warrington College of Business this week. Students had the exclusive opportunity to hear directly from Rogers about his executive role and ask for advice about careers in business during a moderated discussion with Dr. Alex Sevilla, associate dean and director of the Heavener School of Business.

Bill Rogers Rogers has worked for SunTrust for 38 years, serving six and a half of those years as chairman and CEO. SunTrust is one of the nation’s largest financial services companies, serving 4.8 million households and business clients, something Rogers is proud of, as he said he believes SunTrust has an important role to play in people’s lives.

“SunTrust is a place where we can help people with financial well-being,” he said.

Rogers said that about 50 percent of Americans don’t have $2,000 saved for an emergency, and that number jumps to 60 percent for millennials. When Rogers learned this was a problem for employees of his own company, he created a program to encourage employees to open savings accounts by offering a $1,000 match for money saved. Now, he said, more than 80 percent of SunTrust team members feel more financially sound.

Rogers also spoke to students about how technology has changed SunTrust and the banking field, the importance of cybersecurity in the industry, traits of impressive employees and how lifelong learning has impacted him personally.

“It’s not about what you learn, but how you learn,” Rogers said. “You need to continue to reinvest [in yourself]. Don’t ever feel comfortable in your knowledgebase.”

Warrington students then had the opportunity to ask questions and seek advice directly from Rogers. They asked a range of questions, from technical questions regarding cybersecurity, debt in the United States and digital currencies, to how SunTrust is evolving to work with customers in different generations, to personal reflection practices and how he resolves conflicts.

In closing, Rogers told students three pieces of advice he wished he would have known when he was completing his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. First, be flexible in learning.

“The ability to adopt and to adapt are just as important as the subject-matter knowledge you have gained,” he said.

Second, your opinion matters.

“You are really valuable,” Rogers said. “Don’t ever underestimate your value to an organization.”

And, third, do something that matters to you.

“Be purposeful in what you do,” he said.

Watch the full discussion with Rogers.