How an EMBA Opened Doors for Alumnus David Kirby

In early 2015, David Kirby ’12 relocated from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City to begin his most important career assignment to date – to build and launch a new division of Zions Bank from the ground up. In his new role as senior vice president and director of business banking, David oversees all business development, credit, employee/staffing, marketing, portfolio management and other initiatives for Practice Pathways, a professional finance division of Zions Bank that offers innovative practice financing solutions for medical professionals.

With over 15 years of experience in the banking/financial sales and service industry, David most recently served as first vice president and national retail sales manager for East West Bank’s Professional Practice Solutions Group. Before that, he held senior-level positions with JP Morgan Chase, Bank One, Washington Mutual and other private financial firms. David’s banking career began during his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business communications. His dad was a banker so finance was a familiar field to him.

From an outsider’s perspective, David’s professional ascent has been nothing short of impressive, but he admits his career wasn’t always looking so optimistic. The subprime crash years of 2006 to 2009 were particularly challenging.

“There were a lot of takeovers and consolidation in the banking industry [during that time] which created redundancy in jobs and an increase in talent pools,” said David. “I interviewed at several banks but was passed up because I didn’t have my MBA. It was really frustrating. I knew I had to get my MBA to make me more attractive in the market.”

At the time, David didn’t realize just how impactful an MBA would be to his career. The timing seemed right to go back to school when he returned to his native Southern California in 2009. He applied to and was accepted into several EMBA programs in the Los Angeles area and LMU ultimately ended up being the best fit.

“Not only were the Saturday classes and lower cost appealing, but I specifically liked that LMU took the time to focus on perfecting the individual,” said David. “It wasn’t always about the bottom line but about you as a person, making good decisions and being an ethical member of society.”

David also enjoyed the shared experience of being in a cohort class. It resulted in forming tight bonds with his fellow classmates that remain strong to this day. He cited the domestic and international trips as highlights and liked that the instructors had real world experience and knew the practical side of the theories they were teaching.

David says it was very personal for him to get his MBA because he was overlooked for prior positions. He admits he had a chip on his shoulder going into the program and aspired to be at the top of his class. David’s ambitious nature didn’t disappoint – he graduated with honors from LMU with a 3.9 GPA, was inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society and gained a new sense of self-confidence.

“Having an MBA has given me the ability to not have corporate blinders on and taken away the fear of being passed on for an opportunity,” said David. “It’s given me the confidence to go into any industry and make an immediate impact. Before my MBA, I was strictly banking and finance. Now I can be proficient in every aspect of business – HR, marketing, entrepreneurship, etc. I have the ability to go out and create my own destiny.”

Although David misses California, he’s adjusting to life in Salt Lake City with his wife Renae and four children. He’s an avid cyclist and triathlete who enjoys spending time outdoors with his family. David also volunteers with several charitable organizations, including the United Way Young Leaders, and continues to be involved in the LMU EMBA Mentoring Program.

Looking back at his professional achievements thus far, David is extremely proud of where he’s at in his career.

“Being 38 and an SVP running an entire division at one of the top 25 largest banks in the nation is extremely rewarding,” said David. “My entrepreneurial spirit, leadership skills and creative mindset have been a huge key to my success. Where I wanted to be in 5-10 years is where I am now and a lot of it is because of my MBA.”