John Allison is the retired CEO and Chairman of the Branch Banking & Trust Corporation, based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Under Mr. Allison’s leadership from 1989 to 2009, BB&T grew from $4.5 billion to over $152 billion in assets to become the tenth largest financial institution headquartered in the USA. Almost more impressively, while many top banks failed outright or received large bailouts during the recent financial crisis, BB&T remained healthy and profitable. Mr. Allison is currently Distinguished Professor of Practice in the Business School at Wake Forest University.
Kaizen: Where did you grow up?
Allison: I grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina but I moved between the 10th and 11th grades to Chapel Hill, and graduated from high school in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Kaizen: When you were young, did you think you would become a banker?
Allison: Not at all. I was interested in economics in high school but not in banking, per se.
Kaizen: What were your early career dreams when you were a kid?
Allison: I thought I would work for a railroad and maybe be a railroad engineer.