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Risks and Rewards: Ryan Nelson ‘97

Posted on Sep 6, 2012
UW-Superior Alum, Ryan Nelson, is climbing the ladder of success by using his college education and his passion in the field of banking.
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Risks and Rewards: Ryan Nelson ‘97


Ryan Nelson obtained his degree in Economics and Business Administration, with a concentration in Finance, upon his graduation from UW-Superior in 1997. From the time he first began attending college, Nelson's interests were already pulling him towards a career in banking. He explains, "Money movement, the stock market, and the economy in general have always been an interest of mine."  His love and dedication to the field brought him many great opportunities, and he now is working as the Assistant Vice President and a Risk Manager at US Bank in downtown Minneapolis.

Professional Banking                        

After finishing his studies at the university, Nelson found his first professional job working with TCF Bank in Edina, MN, where he held the position of a Consumer Loan Officer. From there he moved to US Bank in Duluth and spent a few years there, first working as a Personal Banker but eventually being promoted to Branch Manager. Nelson's final move brought him back to the Twin Cities area where he began working with one of the divisions of US Bank and was eventually placed into his current job as a Consumer Banking Risk Manager while also holding the position of the Assistant Vice President.

As a Risk Manager, Nelson's main job is assessing the threats that could potentially come out of a specific situation and working out a way to efficiently manage those risks or evade the risks altogether. This deals with numerous areas of banking such as whether or not to approve certain loans or bank accounts, and figuring out the best way to go about dealing with new regulations placed on the bank by the government. He reveals, "I think being flexible [and] being able adapt to different situations has really helped me." Nelson has some tough choices to make on the job, but he is successful because he "[has] the confidence to make a decision and stick by it." Because he works
with so many different facets of the bank, Nelson never gets bored while on the
job, and he enjoys being able to help the customers with their needs and help
the bank in its success.

One challenging aspect to his job, however, is fighting the misinterpreted ideas about the company based on factors that are outside of the company's control. Nelson comments, "The current regulatory environment in banking is tough and the entire banking industry's reputation has taking a negative turn the last few years. Some of it deserved most of it not." It is a tough job to make a positive name for the company when there are already so many false representations of the bank being circulated by the public. It is also frustrating for him to deal with certain expectations in the workplace. Nelson explains, "My biggest complaint is having to make changes that don't make
business sense because a regulator/regulatory body doesn't agree with how we are doing it." Nonetheless, Nelson still greatly enjoys his work with the bank, and he loves being able to have a part in its success.

The Benefits of College

Nelson's time spent at the university was a great contributor to his later career success. While he was attending college, Nelson was a member of the UW-Superior baseball team. He credits this experience, along with his time spent on other sports teams throughout the years, for leading him to success in his professional career. Reflecting on the impact it has had on him, he says, "I believe being part of a team or group is a very valuable experience as you move out of college and into the job market. Being able to work together toward a common goal is extremely important." 

For his specific field, Nelson also feels that his Economics and Finance classes from college were especially helpful for his job, since they were directly applicable to his daily work. His other classes that he took for his major and minor were also a perfect fit for the line of work he ended up in. He understands the importance of getting an education beyond high school and how strongly that impacts the potential to obtain a professional job.

Career Counseling

Nelson knows that the chances of getting the dream job right out of college are slim, but he would advise others to just get some experience and be patient. He recommends, "First of all, get your degree…After that, just get in door with a bank, work hard, and do a good job. The opportunities will come."  For those who are looking to stretch their career potential to its limits, Nelson would suggest looking into whether or not the company you work for offers financial aid for graduate school. Many companies are willing to help ease the burden of tuition for those going back to school to further their education. This is because they want have the most knowledgeable employees who can help their company to success.

In Nelson's position, however, he does not believe that having a master's degree is a necessity. At the same time he would certainly never discourage anybody from pursuing a higher degree. He comments, "Without one you may start a little lower and make less money but you can make that ground up if you are smart and work hard. Experience can be the great equalizer."

Looking to the future of banking, there is certainly still room for growth. A couple of years ago there was only one other person working with risk management at the bank with Nelson. Since then, the job has already expanded greatly, and there are now thirteen more people working in that specific job position. Nelson certainly enjoys what he is doing on the job and hopes to continue working in this area of the bank in the upcoming years. He states, "US Bank has been a wonderful company to work for and I hope to spend the rest of my career here." No matter where Nelson ends up in the company, there is sure to be a bright future for him.

Ryan Nelson was interviewed as a part of the Career Services Day in the Life project. His full interview and those of other UW-Superior alumni can be found on the Day in the Life website, http://www.uwsuper.edu/career/students/day-in-the-life.cfm.

Interview conducted by Jessica Schlauderaff on April 18, 2012. Article written by Kristen Jasperson.


News Contact: Shannon Gilligan | 715-394-8026 | sgillig1{atuws}
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