Profile of the Week

Dominic Karaba, senior vice president, small business region manager, U.S. Bank

Name: Dominic Karaba

Title: Senior Vice President – Small Business Region Manager

Company: U.S. Bank

City of residence: Mequon

Family: "My beautiful wife Gwen and our six year old twins, Cameron and Lauren

How does the market look to you? "CHALLENGING. We will likely continue to see tighter than normal credit markets in the coming year and a variety of other government sponsored programs to help the economy in general, but also the banking and finance industry. We are fortunate at U.S. Bank to have made some very good financial and organization decisions over the past few years, that have put us in a place to be far less affected by the national financial crisis than could have been the case."

What are you working on now? "I’m working on delivering Five Star Service to our clients by creating a work environment for our employees that is second to none. Our Wisconsin team has taken to heart the belief that our clients and shareholders win when we attract, retain, develop and engage at a personal level, the very best employees in the industry. Because of this, we are engaged in a number of activities to invest in our team members. We are developing and implementing programs that cover all aspects of personal and professional development for our bankers. From credit training, leadership training, and sales training, to formal career coaching and mentoring, we are working to create an environment that fosters the very best in our employees for our customers."

What was the best investment/client/project you’ve been involved with? "Having worked with in and with small businesses for the better part of the last 15 years, there are many great clients and projects to pick from. It always seems that the most remember-able clients are the ones you really know you contributed to making a difference in their businesses, but more importantly their families. One of the most rewarding projects was working with a small business owner and his family to help structure an appropriate debt structure and cash flow model for their company that would allow them to go to China and adopt a number of children that were in need. This was an addition to an already above average size family here in the states. We worked together for almost two years to ensure they could financially support the costs of adopting foreign children, but that the business was in a place both organizationally and financially that it could support the changes on a go forward basis. Playing a small role in making this happen was very rewarding."

"The most interesting client I have ever had was Security Industry Automation Corporation which was the information technology backbone for the New York Stock Exchange and we had provided the equipment and financing for some of the technology that ran the daily trading on the floor."

What was the funniest moment of your career? "Early in my career I had the good fortune to work with very large corporations on the east coast of the U.S. and Canada. One of those clients was the largest supplier of equipment to the telephone industry. I had been working with them for about a year via the telephone before finally making a trip to New York to meet with the CFO, the CIO and the head of purchasing, which was my main contact. After many months of working via the telephone with the company, they had developed an impression of what I would look like based on my interaction, name and voice. Here I was only a couple of years out of school seated in the lobby of a hotel in New York City, waiting for the chance to deliver my very rehearsed and prepared presentation to three of the highest level officers in a Fortune 1000 company. I was sure the presentation would be spot on and would win us the business. As they came down the stairs my contact Elsie, blurted out at the top of her lungs, ‘You are so skinny!’ To say the least, every person in the lobby turned and looked right at me, as did the puzzled CIO and CFO. I’m pretty sure there was a large spot light that illuminated on me at that exact moment from somewhere on the ceiling, or at least it felt like it. I never did fully recover from that opening, nor did I end up giving the presentation that I had prepared and practiced for about six months. I never did ask Elsie about the comment, nor did she ever say anything about it. The good news is, we did get the business and I still think it was because we had the best solution, not because they felt so darn sorry for the poor kid. It also taught me to always be ready for a curve ball."

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