His name — say “Lundy Um-kee-zay” — gives away Landi Mkhize’s origins far more than any trace of accent after 17 years in the United States.
He finished high school in South Africa and arrived in Arkansas as a freshman at Harding University in Searcy. After a year there, he transferred to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where he graduated from the Walton College of Business in 2005 with a degree in finance and accounting.
It was at UA that he met the professor whose advice set the path of his career: John Dominick. “He recommended going into banking from the regulatory side to learn all about the industry to decide which area of banking to pursue,” Mkhize said.
With his new degree in hand, Mkhize hired on as an examiner with the Arkansas State Bank Department, where he got to see different aspects of banking as well as different cultures and philosophies.
“It taught me that there are millions of ways to skin a cat in this industry. It’s a matter of staying the course and executing,” he said.
In 2013, Mkhize followed the time-honored path from bank examiner to bank officer, hiring on as CFO at a bank he had become familiar with earlier in his stint with the Bank Department. At Chambers Bank he found two more mentors, CEO John Ed Chambers III (“I think I joined the bank because of him.”) and President Mike Donnell, who previously held the CFO title.
Chambers Bank is headquartered in Danville, and Mkhize makes the 120-mile trip from his home in Fayetteville an average of one day a week to maintain a “cohesive team” with his four direct reports.
“The Chambers family wants the bank to be around for years and years and years,” he said, and he loves being part of that — mainly because he likes the people he works with. “The work is the work, but do you like the people?”