Mike Donnell has been president of the $1.2 billion-asset Chambers Bank since Oct. 15, 2012. Donnell, who is also a director of the bank, previously was chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Chambers Bancshares Inc., the holding company for the bank, and Chambers Bank, whose CEO and chairman is John Ed Chambers III.
Donnell earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Arkansas Tech University in Russellville in 1991 and is a 1996 graduate of the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University.
What attracted you to banking?
I have known John Chambers my entire life. At a young age, I mowed his yard, washed his cars and eventually worked on his farms until I graduated from college. During my time in high school and college, I would occasionally get a chance to work at what was then Danville State Bank and now Chambers Bank. There are so many great people who have worked at the bank in the past 92 years, and taking care of our customers and being part of the community is central to our mission and something that I always noticed growing up. This still holds true today.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Even though we have grown to over $1.2 billion in assets, the people who work at Chambers Bank are family. I have been working at Chambers for over 30 years, and being part of the team is very special. Our No. 1 goal is to provide the best customer service possible.
What are the biggest challenges for Chambers Bank?
Last year was very challenging for banks. We went from an extremely low interest rate environment and a surplus of funds in 2020 and 2021 and in a matter of a year to where rates have increased over 4 percentage points and deposits have become a premium. Our team is constantly analyzing interest rates on both sides of the balance sheet to make sure that we remain competitive in all our markets.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
Very early in my career, I read the quote, “Failure is never fatal, and success is never final.” This is something that I have always remembered, and I have tried to apply that in my personal life as well as my professional life.
What is a mistake that helped shape your career?
Very early in my career I had an issue with a loan that could have caused a small loss to the bank. At that time in my career, that seemed huge. We had just recently sold part of the bank where I was working, so I also had a new boss, Roy Reaves, who is well known in the industry. Things had been going pretty well, and we had a good relationship, and we still do. When I told him we had an issue with that loan, I just knew that could be it for my career in banking. He told me that he does not look at one instance when he evaluates someone; he looks at how they do their overall job. This was great advice, and I have tried to treat people that way as well. By the way, we didn’t lose anything on the loan.
Who are your mentors?
As I mentioned, I have known John Chambers my entire life. Other than about a one-year stint with Tyson Foods, I have always worked for him. He has not only provided me guidance and knowledge about banking, he has given me the opportunity to do something that I truly love to do every day. He has definitely been my biggest mentor throughout my career. Not only that, but I consider him to be a huge part of my family, and I cannot thank him enough.