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Jay Staley

Jay Staley, 39

Director of Investor Relations & Corporate Development

Bank OZK

Little Rock

Professional achievements
• Investment banking associate, Stephens Inc. Financial Institutions Group, 2013.
• Vice president-corporate development, Bank OZK, 2016.
• Promoted to senior vice president-corporate development, 2019.
• Promoted to director of investor relations and corporate development, 2019.

Community involvement
Chairman, University of Arkansas Honors College Dean’s Advisory Board; member, Southern Methodist University Cox Alumni Association board; committee member, Christ Episcopal Church Endowment; volunteer coach, Junior Deputy Baseball.

First job and lesson learned
“After graduating from the University of Arkansas, I accepted a position as an executive compensation consulting analyst at Mercer in Dallas. Starting out, your No. 1 job is to make your boss’s life easier in any way you can. The little things really do matter.”

Top challenge facing Arkansas
“Opportunities for innovation aren’t as prevalent here. We need to inspire people in Arkansas to challenge the status quo and not be afraid of change.”

Most valuable lesson
“Mistakes do happen; how you respond to them matters more than the mistake itself. While it may be painful to admit a failure, it’s rarely as bad as you make it out to be in your head.”

Professional inspiration
“I love telling complex stories in ways that everyone can understand.”

Learning from a mentor
“My friend David Thieke, who is the head of U.S. and Canada executive rewards at Mercer. Throughout my career, David has been a trusted adviser and mentor. He has always been willing to take the time to have the conversations that mattered most, both in and out of the office.”

Professional “aha” moment
“Your career isn’t set in stone at any point in time — especially approaching 40!”

Making Arkansas more attractive to young professionals
“Arkansas needs more opportunities for families that are competitive with other larger areas that tend to draw younger workers. Talented young professionals are looking for careers that provide growth opportunities with strong earning potential, regardless of where they are located. Equally important to that equation are great neighborhoods to call home, excellent schools, and cultural activities that make a community a great place to live.”

Advice for future 40 Under 40 honorees
“Lack of experience is not an excuse. Just because you haven’t done something before should not keep you from doing it in the future, and if you try something new you will likely be pleasantly surprised by all that you can achieve.”

Career dream as a child
“I wanted to be a marine biologist and work with whales or dolphins.”

Most fulfilling career moment
“No single moment in my career will ever surpass the relationships I’ve had the privilege of making along the way.”

One word to describe you

Best thing about Arkansas
“Without a doubt, I feel it’s the connections and sense of unity Arkansans feel towards each other. Arkansas is a small place, and that sense of community extends beyond any border.”

Where you see yourself in 10 years
“I want to be in a place where I can continue to grow and learn while also having the opportunity to mentor others the way others have been there for me along the way.”

Advice for your 18-year-old self
“Perfection is a misguided ideal.”

How you define success
“Success is leaving things in a better position than when you found them. That lesson applies from the boardroom down to the dugout, and everywhere in between.”


40 Under 40

June 10, 2025

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