Where are they now? Jeremy Morgret '02
Interviewee: Jeremy Morgret
Interviewer: Kyle Hansen
MSUB alumnus Jeremy Morgret is the current branch manager at Stockman Bank in downtown Billings. Hailing from Sturgis, South Dakota, Jeremy joined the United States Army in 1996 as part of the infantry. In the three years he was enlisted, Morgret rose to a specialist in the army. Upon leaving the military in 1999, he began school at MSUB where he majored in business administration with an option in information systems and graduated in 2002. Morgret is married to his wife Roxanne with two daughters, Madyson and Analyse.
KH: Where are you now? What has been your path that has gotten you to where you are now?
JM: Currently I’m the branch manager at the downtown Stockman Bank. I’ve been in banking since 2002, so going on 13 years. I started off in a management training program for banking right after I graduated from MSUB, and then moved into a credit analyst role where I was helping analyze and underwrite commercial credit, commercial loans. I did that for a little while then had the opportunity to become a commercial loan officer and I was doing commercial real estate lending. I did that for almost two years when they asked me to look at moving to Polson, Montana. So I moved up to Polson and was the branch manager up there. I did that for about four and a half years and then had the opportunity to relocate back to Billings and we really liked Billings. I came back here and had the opportunity to open this branch up from the start which was in 2011 so we actually moved back here in July of 2011 and opened this up December 29, 2011. It’s an exciting opportunity to open a bank up from scratch. It’s kind of a once in a lifetime deal and most people won’t get to do it. It’s a little nerve-wracking, because you’re starting with zero and you have to build your base but it’s been fun and it’s been challenging. We’re going three and a half years now with this and it’s been real good.
KH: Has it been successful since it’s been opened?
JM: It’s been real successful. We continue to grow. We started with 13 staff members down here and today we have 24 staff members. We have about 36 banks statewide, Stockman Bank does, and today we’re about the fifth largest of those 36 Stockman Banks. So we went from zero, the smallest, to the fifth largest in just a little under four years. We’ve got a really good team down here, some great people and it’s worked out really well. And being right in downtown Billings has been nice. It’s kind of the financial hub of the state and we’re right, kind of in the epicenter of that and it’s been really good.
KH: What made you want to do business in college?
JM: Business always kind of interested me. Honestly, my dad ran a construction company when I was growing up. It was kind of just a mom and pop, doing remodels, and they build some homes. He’s a great carpenter, just a great craftsman, but always struggled on the business side. I kind of always watched that and just didn’t understand why. I mean he worked, all the time and did great work. People would come up to me and tell me what an amazing craftsman he was. Yet, they never made any money. It was always a struggle growing up. From that sense, business always kind of always intrigued me because I couldn’t figure that out. I started college in 1999 when I got out of the army and the dot com age was just kind of coming on so computers interested me too. So I found a degree that mixed both of those. Business Administration of the Information Systems. So I was working the technology side plus the business side and it just seemed to be the right fit. Now, I’m not using the information systems side at all. I can hardly set a computer up anymore. I ended up strictly on the business side, but I’ve really enjoyed it.
KH: Prior to MSUB, you were in the army for three years. What are some of the lessons the army taught you that have stuck with you throughout your life?
JM: The army was great. Honestly, I’ve got two daughters and I talk to them about going into the military. I wouldn’t have them go into the army but the military in general teaches you about discipline. It teaches you responsibility and it teaches a chain of command, which is really important. We’ve all got somebody to answer to. One thing being in the infantry taught me was how to take a butt chewing every once in a while. But that doesn’t mean you have to be submissive either. It teaches some tolerance. The other great thing about it was being a kid from Sturgis, South Dakota, my exposure to different cultures was pretty limited. Most of the kids were from urban areas and I had a lot of exposure to that and that was a really good learning opportunity. I’d say the best thing about the military was it gave me confidence. When I went in there I was real nervous because I was with all these kids from all over the country and didn’t know what to expect. You quickly realize being from areas like Montana and South Dakota, there’s a different work ethic and we have a different set of values and real quickly you rise to the top amongst your peer group. All of a sudden I realized I could do a lot of things that I never knew I could do. So it really helped me build confidence.
KH: Why did you choose MSUB after leaving the military?
JM: We decided to get to Billings because it was the perfect distance from home. We’re close enough we’re about five hours from home which is kind of nice space but you’re close to family and you can get there in a half-day’s drive. I worked for almost a year, established residency in the state of Montana. I was actually working at Oak Express selling furniture. That was also a job I knew I didn’t want to do for too long. So I was doing that, and was looking at Rocky Mountain College and MSUB and MSUB was more economical and was a little bit bigger. It had more of what I was interested in for the career path I was looking at so it was a logical choice. When I was visiting with the advisors they were very helpful.
KH: What were some of your best memories during your time at MSUB?
JM: I really developed a relationship with a couple of the professors in the business area. Brian Gurney is one of them, he’s really great. Just working with those guys and just visiting with them after class was really nice. Honestly I didn’t have a traditional college experience because I was married with a kid so it wasn’t like I was out looking for the nighttime entertainment or any of that stuff. The experience was great though because my wife was working, and I was doing school full-time and I wanted to get school done in three years and so that was my goal. She went to work, I had the G.I. Bill and I took care of my daughter. So for the three years I basically was a stay at home dad. I would ride my bike with my daughter on the back, drop her off at daycare which was at St. John’s Lutheran living home and then ride my bike down to college and that was a great experience because, you know in the winters I wouldn’t do that but all summer long and when the weather was good it was just ride my bike to daycare with my daughter on the back and picking her up afterwards. The whole experience was kind of neat. It gave me a few years that I got real close with my daughter.
KH: In 2011, you were given the Recognition for Exceptional Achievement award by MSUB. How was the feeling of being honored by your alma mater like that?
JM: It was real shocking, surprising, and humbling. There are a lot of people that have won that award that have done a lot greater things than I have. It was a great experience. We were living in Polson at the time and we drove down for it. But it was humbling. Honestly I’m still kind of surprised and not sure exactly how or why I got it but the group of people that were around me that also were receiving it, like I said they’ve had much longer careers and accomplished much greater things in their life. It was a good experience.
KH: Have you enjoyed it since you’ve been at Stockman?
JM: I enjoy it immensely. Honestly when I was in college I really thought I’d probably end up somewhere on the computer side of the world, you know working information systems. When I graduated it was right when the dot com bust had happened. When I got out the technology field was pretty rough. There was a lot of unemployed technology people looking for jobs. I applied all over the country for jobs and ultimately ended up getting a job in a management training program with the bank. I’m very grateful that it happened that way, because sitting behind a desk at a computer all day would have just driven me nuts. What I love about this job is the problem solving with people. I like being able to help identify people’s strengths and develop that side of them and help them along both their personal and professional career paths and I love working with our customers. I get to go out to businesses and see machinery and manufacturing lines and just crazy things that I would’ve never seen before. It’s been a way better fit than writing code would’ve been. One thing that I’ve learned about myself is that I’m more of an extrovert than I probably ever thought I was. To be behind a computer all day as an extrovert is kind of fitting a round peg in a square hole.