Prospect Magazine: Alumni Stories

Those Classes Broadened Me as a Person

Adam Warner ’99
President and Chief Operating Officer, Key Equipment Finance

My education was sporadic after high school. I took a few classes here and a few classes there, so altogether I had about two years of college credit from a couple of different community colleges. By the time I thought seriously about earning a degree, I had been out of high school for 15 years.

At the time, I was working for the equipment finance unit of Mellon Bank. There was a lot of discussion at the company about selling the division, and a light bulb went on in my head: I had progressed in the company because of my experience, and I’d been successful—but there was a gaping hole in my résumé because I had no college degree. A new company that didn’t know me might not take a chance on me. I knew it was time to get on the ball and advance my education.

When I started at Elmhurst, I was fairly advanced in my career; my goal was to earn a degree as quickly as possible. But then I took classes in theology, ethics and English composition, and I saw the benefits of a liberal arts education. Those classes broadened me as a person and made me more aware of other cultures and perspectives. In the end, I graduated with a lot more than a piece of paper.

Earning the degree allowed me to progress in my career without interruption. When Mellon sold its equipment financing unit to GE, I moved to New York to join Key Bank as a division president of its equipment finance unit. Today I run the entire company’s $9 billion business, financing equipment purchases ranging from computer systems to corporate jets across North America and Europe.

If I hadn’t had a degree, and my broader outlook, there’s just no way the company’s board would have felt comfortable placing me at this level of responsibility.

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