Instead of retiring, Brown ‘re-wires’ after 47 years in banking
Darrell Brown is the first to admit that his career, so far, has been great. He’s logged 47 years in banking and fulfilled his lifelong dream of making a difference by serving others.
And even though he stepped down on May 1, as senior vice president for Consumer Banking at U.S. Bank, Brown isn’t retiring. Instead, he said he’s “re-wiring” and transferring his talents to other areas.
His intentions are good news for the community, especially in light of his many contributions to residents and businesses in South Los Angeles. Thanks to his efforts, many people and companies have gained a firm footing in money management.
“The way my brain works, I often felt that banking was the one industry that would allow me to serve and make sure that I had solutions, ideas, could collaborate, assist and guide those that wanted to buy a home, a new car or take a vacation or provide capital for small businesses. We would do it together in ways that would make a difference and make things come true,” said Brown, as he looked back over his career.
“I also was sensitive to those that were challenged and their discretionary dollars were low. I figure that somewhere along the line, my love for service and my passion for banking and finance would sort of make a difference. That’s been the motivation and inspiration I’ve had for literally 47 years.”
The joy of service has followed Brown throughout his time in banking and brief venture into insurance. Starting out at Security Pacific Bank, Brown went on to work in increasingly responsible positions at Wells Fargo, First Interstate Bank, New York Life and Northwestern Mutual.
“I did everything from retail banking, wealth management, commercial lending – pretty much in that space. I love telling people that it’s in my DNA to work in industries and securities and insurance. And of course, for the last 15 years, I’ve been with this great company called U.S. Bank,” he said.
His ability to aid the community really soared at U.S. Bank, where he directed strategic, tactical and profit and loss management for nearly 100 retail branch facilities. He also served as a key liaison for government relations at the federal, state and local levels, and was one of three executive sponsors for diversity and inclusion, overseeing the design and implementation of D&I strategies for all of U.S. Bank.
“For me to be at the table, as one of the highest ranking people in the company, particularly as an African American male, [I could] make a difference and cultivate awareness and do the kinds of things that really reflect our core values of diversity and inclusion,” said Brown, who noted that many people he watched as a youngster reinforced his desire to make a difference in the lives of others.
A native of Los Angeles, Brown was influenced by the work ethics and commitment of his neighbors, teachers, homeowners, business people and community leaders. Some of his mentors included influencers such as former L.A. Mayor, Tom Bradley, whom Brown credited as “teaching me the importance of understanding the needs of a community; part of that could be banking or part of that could be outreach.”
He also cited U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who Brown described as “always one to make sure that people understood the importance of financial well-being to make a difference.”
Brown’s spiritual exposure was another area where service was emphasized. As a junior deacon at the church where his grandfather was the pastor, Brown recalled, “people would offer to make a difference through their donations to the church and I would watch how the church would manage its budget and monitor monies that would come in.”
The themes of banking, community, inclusion and service continued to be instilled in Brown, even as a teen. Working part-time at the local mini-mart, he noticed that the Jewish owner extended credit to neighbors to “make sure communities were fed. People would pay for their purchases later when they got paid,” Brown said.
“All of these were people that had disciplines that I learned from as a young kid. Every step of the way, I became a student of the industry and knew that I could make a difference,” he insisted.
The difference he has made throughout his banking career has resulted in many commendations from the recipients of Brown’s contributions. His honors include the Luis Lainer Founder’s Award from Bet Tzedek, the Leadership Award from the California Legislative Black Caucus and the “Outstanding Corporate Citizen Award” from West Angeles Community Development Corporation. In addition, Brown sits on the board of directors of the African American Board Leadership Institute, Junior Achievement and the Music Center among others.
Through all of his endeavors – inside and outside of banking – Brown is guided by service. “I love when a customer says, ‘thank you,’ knowing that I played a part. Not only myself, but I can bring subject matter experts and many disciplines that have a culture of collaboration to help customers, individuals – consumers, businesses, investors, retirees – to have a trusted interaction that allows them to grow beyond where they are.”
Brown’s philosophy extends to his employees where he strives to help them succeed in their careers.
“They say you can’t pull anybody up unless you’re standing on higher ground. I have a responsibility to create an atmosphere where people can grow professionally, where you embrace personal development, career development, and being a mentor and a sponsor,” he said.
As for his “re-wired” future, Brown plans to spend time with family, especially his granddaughter, focus on his well-being, pursue writing books and plays and serving others even more.
“I’m going to consult and you can rest assured that there’ll be a continuum of the work I do in the community by sitting on boards of directors in nonprofit, academic, public service sectors,” said Brown. “In that position, I can align myself with great people from different walks of life and professions, where we can come together for the common purpose, a common cause and serve to make a difference.”