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Executive Q&A: Third-generation peanut farmer trades agriculture career for banking

Executive Q&A: Tony Shinn, Oklahoma City market president for Bank of America, left the family farm in Carnegie to grow a banking career.
by Paula Burkes Modified: May 4, 2014 at 3:00 pm •  Published: May 4, 2014

Bank of America/Merrill Lynch market president Tony Shinn says the Fitbit pedometer he wears on his right wrist reminds him to pay attention to his physical fitness. When he spies it, he remembers to seize any opportunity to walk further during his work day, he said, including taking the stairs rather than the elevator to his second-floor offices at Leadership Square. His goal is 10,000 steps a day.

Similarly, his Charlotte, N.C.-based bank’s yearly goals — to make two million business-to-business referrals nationwide and volunteer two million community service hours — is “kind of like wearing a Fitbit,” said Shinn, who joined Bank of America in 2005 and was named Oklahoma City market president in 2007.

“They’re things we do anyway, but we measure them to make sure we’re taking action on what we promise to do,” he said.

Within Shinn’s central Oklahoma market, the bank has 15 locations and employs 300.

Shinn, 54, sat down with The Oklahoman on Monday to talk about his life and career. The following is an edited transcript:

Q: Tell us about your roots.

A: I grew up a few hours southwest of here in Carnegie, with a sister who’s two years older. My father, who’s now deceased, was a peanut farmer and also sold life insurance for Northwestern Mutual. My mother, now of Oklahoma City, taught first and second grades. We had 640 acres on three different farms, and a 106-acre peanut allotment. Like most kids from small schools (I graduated in a class of 59), I played all the sports: football, basketball and track, and spent my summers on a tractor.

Q: Was it always OSU for you?

boldA: Yes. Both my parents went there, but never graduated, because they came back home to run the farm when my dad’s dad died. My mother grew up in Alfalfa, 10 miles north of Carnegie. At OSU, I majored in agricultural economics, figuring I too eventually would run the farm. I pledged the same fraternity as my father, AGR (Alpha Gamma Rho), and was president of my pledge class the fall of 1977, when scaffolding for our homecoming house decoration fell into a power line and killed three fraternity brothers. I’d just visited with one of them, freshman Randy Logan of Elk City, at 2 or 3 that morning. The accident pulled us all together, and made us all realize just how short life can be.

Q: How did you meet your wife?

A: As freshmen, we were on President’s Leadership Council together, and met on a retreat before school started. We really got to know each other when my fraternity and her sorority, Pi Beta Phi, teamed for the Freshmen Follies song and dance production (we took first place). But we didn’t start dating until February of our sophomore year. I actually tried to set her up with someone, but that didn’t work out. Then I asked her to a party, and she was seeing someone. Then she asked me to a party, and I couldn’t go. When we finally connected, we married less than a year afterward — the middle of our junior year, on Jan. 5, 1980. It just felt right, like it was the right time. We moved into married student housing, and both took part-time jobs. I worked in downtown Stillwater at Gary Hulse Men’s Wear. I enjoyed helping people and making connections, and became sort of a clothes horse, which is ironic since I lived in cutoffs and T-shirts on the farm.

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by Paula Burkes
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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Tony N. Shinn

•Position: Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, Oklahoma City market president and senior vice president, global commercial banking.

•Birth date and childhood home: June 23, 1959; Carnegie.

Education: Oklahoma State University, bachelor’s in agricultural economics; Oklahoma City University, master of business administration.

Family: Wife, Kelly Hefner Shinn, married 34 years; daughter Libby Myrin, 31, of Temple, Texas; and son Taylor Shinn, 29, of Edmond. His entire family, including his children’s spouses, are Oklahoma State University grads, and try to travel together to one away football game every season.

Residence: Iron Horse Ranch addition in northeast Edmond.

Faith: Crossings Community Church and Friday morning men’s Bible studies with four longtime friends.

Civic involvement: Rotary Club of downtown Oklahoma City, Festival of the Arts, United Way of Central Oklahoma, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools and The Children’s Center in Bethany.

Pastimes: He and Kelly enjoy visiting the buildings of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, from the Price Tower in Bartlesville to the Robie House in Chicago, and have built Lego models of several of his works, including Fallingwater and the Guggenheim Museum.


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