This year has been full of milestones for our newest Business Banker, Blake Chesley.
The Sioux Falls native and Augustana University alum graduated with his M.B.A. in May, celebrated his one-year anniversary with the Bank in June, and earned a promotion to Business Banker in July.
Now, he’s ready to start meeting with customers in our newly renovated Downtown branch, which is set to open its doors in a few short weeks.
Before then, here’s everything you need to know about Blake:
Tell us about your background.
I am Sioux Falls through and through. After attending Roosevelt High School, I went to Augustana University to pursue undergraduate degrees in business administration, finance, and economics.
I graduated with my undergrad degrees in 2021 and finished up my M.B.A. at Augie in May. Though I haven’t been out of school long, I have worked in the financial industry since 2018 via summer jobs and internships. I’m proud to have reached my one-year milestone with First National Bank in June.
Why did you choose to become a business banker?
As I was approaching the end of my senior year at Augie, I didn’t have a job lined up. I didn’t know if I could even apply to any since I was already planning on attending school for an additional year.
However, Mary Toso, an amazing career and academic planning specialist at Augie, informed me of a great opportunity that I should look into, and it happened to be the Business Banker position here at FNB. I met with a couple of the other Business Bankers to get a feel for what the position entailed, and I was immediately excited after talking with them.
I am an analytical person, but I have a sociable personality. The Business Banker role allows me to use both of those strengths, as my two main responsibilities are meeting with customers and analyzing potential loans. Also, serving a variety of businesses exposes me to numerous industries to which I otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed, which makes my day-to-day super interesting.
Why did you choose to work at FNB?
The culture and people at First National are unrivaled by any other employer that I have ever had. At FNB, your teammates truly care about you — not simply as a coworker, but as a person. Everyone at the Bank treats me as more than just another employee, from those at the top of our organization on the Executive Team down to our newest intern. It has been an awesome experience.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I love hearing the stories behind the small businesses in Sioux Falls. The ways in which ideas come to fruition can be unique and interesting. I also love helping these businesses overcome their respective hurdles and positively impact our community. New challenges affect our customer base on a daily basis, and helping our customers find creative ways to navigate these challenges is super rewarding.
How do you feel about moving into the Bank’s newly renovated first floor?
I was extremely excited to finally move downstairs. The day after I was hired was the day the internal renovations began, and that was over a year ago, in June of 2021. During the construction period, I moved desks three separate times, and I didn’t know how the “normal” office felt. Now, we’re all together in a completely updated space, and it’s an awesome feeling. We’re just about ready to open up to customers again, which will be another great change.
One of the Bank’s FIRST Values is Stewardship. Do you volunteer anywhere?
I like to focus my volunteering efforts with programs that directly support the Sioux Falls area because I love to see that positive impact on the community. Some activities I’ve been involved with are serving at The Banquet, Rake the Town, and Habitat for Humanity. All of these organizations serve the people in our community who need it the most, which is why working with them is so rewarding.
Tell us about your volunteer position with the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce.
I joined the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce a little over two months ago as a diplomat. The Diplomat Committee is the servicing arm of the Chamber. This simply means I am responsible for meeting with and helping new members get the most out of their Chamber memberships.
Whether I’m doing a three-month or nine-month check-in, speaking at a ribbon cutting, or attending a membership mixer, I love this volunteer position because I get a firsthand look into all of the new and exciting businesses coming to the Sioux Falls area — and I get to serve people in a whole new way.
What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
I don’t have a ton of cool talents, but people are often surprised when I tell them that I can solve a Rubik’s Cube in about a minute.
If you were given $1 million to start your own business, what would it be?
My realistic answer would probably be to start some sort of real estate investing company. Either some sort of real estate investment trust (REIT) that others can invest in, where I’d be in charge of finding and analyzing real estate deals for the fund, or I’d buy multiple properties across the country and turn them into Airbnbs. That way I could travel whenever I wanted.
My long-shot answer would be to start a hydroponic farming business with my girlfriend, Sophia, or some sort of house plant greenhouse/nursery. I only say this is a long shot answer because I am not super confident in my knowledge surrounding hydroponic farming or the houseplant industry. I just like the idea of both.
If you’d like to learn more about Blake or want to set up a meeting, reach out to him here!