I think the challenge of all business today is the people challenge— being able to create a cohesive team that makes people happy and committed to the job. Today people get less focused and less interested in an institutional kind of environment; they’re mobile and tend to jump from place to place. So the challenge is to get people committed to staying for the long term.
You have to completely immerse yourself in the process, and the only way you are going to be successful at that over time is to love what you are doing. I came out of high school and started working part-time at a bank. The president of that little bank sort of mentored me. He said, “You know, you’ve got a kind of flash for this business, seem to love what you’re doing. You ought to think about making a career in the banking business.” So off I went to the University of Texas and got a degree in finance and then went to work for the federal government as a bank examiner, which in those days was like the graduate school of banking. I was examining banks of all sizes; it was almost a continuous case study, plus it gave me huge regulatory knowledge that gave me a leg up on a lot of people because I understood how to manage in a regulatory environment.
I’m a detailed kind of person. I like working in the guts of a process instead of from 40,000 feet up looking at it, although I do stand back and look at the company from that perspective from time to time. But I’m more action-oriented. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve worked in and participated in practically every phase of our business. It excites me to be able to sit down with somebody in the operations part of the bank and be able to talk his talk and understand what he is saying. I like to see something start from the ground up and work through it and not just be there for the results.
Dennis E. Nixon, the CEO and chairman of Laredo-based International Bancshares Corporation, was born in Pennsylvania and lived all over the United States before his family moved to Corpus Christi when he was in high school. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in finance in 1964 and worked as a bank examiner for six years before landing a position with Union National Bank in Laredo. In 1975 he joined the Bank of Commerce, the predecessor to the International Bank of Commerce (IBC) and International Bancshares Corporation. Today the company has more than ninety locations in Texas and $5.6 billion in assets.