Welshs Faith Is Rewarded

April 28, 2003
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MUSKEGON — Joining a bank that at the time was not even open for business was a “true leap of faith.”

Yet Tracey Welsh saw something intriguing about the opportunity, mostly a chance to gain valuable professional experience.

So she made the jump in October 1998, leaving behind market leader then-Old Kent Bank to go to work for Community Shores Bank Corp. in Muskegon, a de novo bank that several executives of the former FMB Corp. were in the process of forming.

“It was a little frightening, considering the move. To me, coming to a bank that didn’t even exist yet was quite a step backwards,” said Welsh, who has since moved up from controller to vice president and chief financial officer for Community Shores Bank Corp.

“I had no reason to leave my job, but this sounded so exciting. It was worth the chance,” she said.

Today, Welsh is thankful she took that chance. She’s now part of a close-knit senior management team and helping to steer the future direction of the growing community bank.

“I really think this made the difference in my career,” said Welsh, who earlier this year was named a “rising star” in the banking industry by the Independent Community Bankers of America’s monthly trade magazine, Independent Banker.

The selection recognizes community bank executives nationally who are “exceptionally good at what they do” and who represent the industry’s “best virtues, a commitment to customer service and participation in civic events.”

The 37-year-old Grand Rapids resident began her banking career at Corus Bancshares in Chicago, a $2 billion bank she joined after working for accounting firm KPMG’s Chicago office, where she was assigned to audit community banks.

After 18 months at KPMG, she joined Corus Bancshares as assistant controller. A Jackson native, she eventually moved up to vice president and controller with the bank before leaving in early 1997 to “leave the rate race behind” and return to Michigan with her husband, Steven Schadeck, who was planning to return to school.

Welsh connected with Community Shores Bank while working at Old Kent Bank’s downtown Grand Rapids headquarters as an operations officer in the corporate accounting department. Welsh had joined Old Kent in 1997 after being recruited by the bank following her return to Michigan.

A co-worker at Old Kent who had been contacted by Community Shores passed along Welsh’s name. That led to an interview and later an offer from Community Shores Chairman and CEO Jose Infante for a position that Welsh initially didn’t want — controller. Welsh had already worked as a controller at Corus Bancshares and did not, at first, see returning to the role at a much smaller, fledgling institution as the right career move.

Yet the position did offer the opportunity for professional growth.

With Community Shores lacking a chief financial officer, and the position being offered involving some of the duties a CFO would normally handle, Welsh had a chance to learn and eventually grow professionally. She did, and in January 2002 was promoted to chief financial officer.

In joining Community Shores in October 1998 after working for 18 months at Old Kent, Welsh helped to get the company off the ground. As is so often the case in a small business’s formative stages, everybody had to “jump in” and do what was needed, she said.

For Welsh, that included typing out her electronic wire transfers and payables. There were no assistants to handle the tasks that she had been accustomed to assigning. Instead, there were limited resources to work with and an office that was set up in a trailer on the property that Community Shores’ corporate office and main bank branch now occupy.

On the other hand, she was taking on the kind of responsibilities she had been seeking professionally.

Welsh worked on the company’s regulatory approval process with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public stock offering, as well as with state regulators on securing approval to open a bank. She also put together the foundation for the company’s accounting system.

More than four years after Community Shores opened its first branch, Welsh is thankful for the experience she has gained.

“That was a unique experience,” she said of the bank’s formative period. “It was invaluable to me and rounded out my banking career in accounting.”               

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