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Key Takeaways: Steve Crouse Executive Leadership Series

Steve Crouse, chief financial officer of Paragon Bank, joined Annette L. Ranft, dean and Stephen P. Zelnak Chair at the NC State Poole College of Management on April 11, 2018 for the college’s final Executive Leadership Series conversation for the 2017-18 academic year.

Crouse is a Winston-Salem native who graduated in 1986 with two bachelor’s degrees from NC State – in accounting and business management. A certified public accountant in North Carolina since 1990, he worked with the McGladrey & Pullen for eight years and rose to the position of manager. In 1998, he became the controller at Capital Bank, which at the time was a $90 million startup. Crouse assisted the bank in numerous ways including acquisitions, responsibility for public reporting and SEC registration, and then as the bank’s interim chief financial officer.

Steve Crouse, chief financial officer of Paragon Bank

In early 2005, Crouse joined Paragon Bank to start the finance department, where he served as executive vice president and chief financial officer and led the bank through a 2016 initial public offering and a recent merger with Virginia-based TowneBank.

He is a devoted member of the community serving in leadership capacities for several non-profit organizations and he has been recognized twice as Triangle CFO of the Year by the Triangle Business Journal.

Following are several key takeaways from his conversation with Dean Ranft. Listen to the full audio podcast here.

  • If you don’t get your first job, find a way to distinguish yourself and try again!
  • Whether you’re leading a class, a department, a company, you’ve got to create an environment that makes people want to be there.
  • My opinion has always been if you find good people and take care of them and give them the tools to develop them, everything works out. Find good people and focus on them.
  • You win the bet on the first tee. You need to know your opponent and who you’re dealing with. If it’s a new product, know the competition. Know what you’re dealing with before you get into something.
  • Make a difference in somebody’s life. If you can make a positive difference in someone’s life. I promise you it will be more rewarding for you than for them.
  • In regard to mergers: Regardless of the numbers, culture is important. You need to have a good fit for culture (for the merger to work).
  • Addressing the Poole students: You’re part of one of the best business programs in the country. Cherish it. Enjoy it. Get involved. Become a part of the university.

The Poole College of Management has presented this Executive Leadership Series since 1992, providing our students and the community the opportunity to learn from some of the nation’s – and the world’s – leading executives as they talk about their careers and leadership experiences. This series is supported by an ongoing gift from Wells Fargo.

The 2018/2019 Executive Leadership Series will kick off on September 12 with FanDuel CEO Matt King. Read more about that upcoming event here.