Directors at locally-owned SimplyBank promoted Cara Roberson, formerly chief financial officer, to the role of bank president this week, at the recommendation of CEO John Owen for the position. Bank leaders cited Ms. Roberson’s impressive track record, proven financial expertise and leadership in fostering an entrepreneurial attitude within the organization as ample evidence of her qualification to take on the new role.
In tandem with Mr. Owen, Ms. Roberson will lead all operations at the 14-location community bank which has served customers across East Tennessee and Northwest Georgia since 1890, and which premiered its first Chattanooga branch in August 2021. SimplyBank also plans to launch a downtown Chattanooga loan production office on West Main Street later in the first quarter of this year.
Ms. Roberson, a Pikeville, Tn., native, is a graduate of UTC and certified public accountant. She has served in various roles at SimplyBank since joining the organization as an auditor in 2012.
“I’ve had a connection to this bank nearly my entire life, as my mom was a teller here when I was young and I was a teller here during college,” Ms. Roberson said. “I’m proud of the historical success this bank has seen and of the transformation we’ve undergone in recent years in pursuit of the vision of bank directors and shareholders.”
Ms. Roberson said she looks forward to coupling the organization’s unique local identity with its innovative, self-starter and nonorthodox management approach to doing business.
“When George Calfee bought this bank in the 1980s, he introduced the differentiating qualities we live and lead by still today,” she said. “We exist to serve our customers and team members. Running a good bank means running a good business, and I, along with the others on our leadership team, love living up to that challenge daily.”
Mr. Owen, in recommending Ms. Roberson for the role he previously filled while simultaneously acting as CEO, said Ms. Roberson’s banking, management and leadership acumen will continue to elevate the organization’s operations and move it along the track that he and other leaders have laid out in recent years.
He said Ms. Roberson exemplifies the qualities of the SimplyBank leadership team which has been surgically assembled to lead locally, while charting a course for community banks everywhere willing to embrace nontraditional management styles.
“Cara has repeatedly proven herself to be one of the sharpest minds in banking,” Mr. Owen said. “Since joining the organization as an auditor nearly 10 years ago, she has shown a unique, proven ability to balance true thought leadership, an entrepreneurial spirit, operational efficiency and expert accountability, all at the highest level. Along the way she has not only continually grown herself, she has also developed those around her. Those are hallmarks of exceptional leadership, which when paired with a command of our nontraditional style, make Cara the perfect fit for the role of president.
“Cara is among the most impressive executives I’ve worked with over more than 20 years of owning, running and growing businesses,” Mr. Owen said. “She is a top-notch professional and will be a topnotch president.”
With her elevation, Ms. Roberson joins a prestigious group of female bank leaders across the state of Tennessee who currently occupy either chief executive or presidential roles.
Colin Barrett, president of the Tennessee Bankers Association, praised Ms. Roberson’s proven thought leadership in the industry and offered congratulations on her new role.
“Congratulations to Cara on her well-deserved appointment as the first female president of SimplyBank in its 132-year history,” Mr. Barrett said. “Cara has proven to be one of the great leaders of the Tennessee banking industry and will be an asset for the bank’s growth for years to come.”
Following Ms. Roberson’s elevation to president, bank leaders have promoted Candace Colvard to succeed her in the role of chief financial officer. Ms. Colvard holds both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from UTC and is a certified public accountant. A Pikeville, Tn., native, Ms. Colvard joined SimplyBank as corporate controller in 2018 before being named directing financial officer less than two years later.
Congratulating Ms. Colvard on her promotion, Mr. Owen pointed to her seamless adaptation to the organization’s fast-paced management style and willingness to jump in and lead projects.
“Since arriving, Candace has repeatedly demonstrated a unique ability to succeed in the enterprising environment we’ve built here,” Mr. Owen said. “Her energy and expertise add tremendous value and we are excited to have her on our executive team going forward.”
Ms. Colvard said she is excited to tackle her new role and continue working with bank leaders in pursuit of organizational excellence and vision.
“Our bank is filled with exceptional talent and people, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to work alongside them daily as we cast a strategic vision and go after it,” Ms. Colvard said. “Community banking is special because we are not forced to work independent of one another. Both internally and outside the organization, partnerships are key, and I look forward to leveraging my experience for our bank and our industry now and going forward.”
Ms. Colvard has worked closely with Ms. Roberson guiding the bank’s financial operations and helped oversee the consolidation of SimplyBank with its former sister bank in spring 2021. Ms. Roberson praised Colvard’s financial knowledge, her willingness to engage and complete projects and her ability to lead teams from the front.
“Candace’s ability to synthesize information, see the big picture and work with us as nontraditional bankers has made our organization smarter, stronger and more efficient,” Ms. Roberson said. “Candace and I agree: after being exposed to this management style and fast-paced entrepreneurial environment, there is no way we could work anywhere else.”
Alongside Ms. Roberson, Ms. Colvard will manage all financial reporting and operations for the organization.