May 28, 2014
It’s been said that for many West Virginians, leaving the state is just the first step home.
It’s been a 17-year-long journey away from the Mountain State for 1992 Executive MBA graduate Bret Price. Back in 1997, he was recruited by a bank in Birmingham, Alabama, where he moved with his wife, Kara, and two young sons. But although they moved south, a little bit of him stayed. He kept his WVU season football tickets, making the trip to Morgantown five or six times a season. And now, the lifelong Mountaineer is back in his home among the hills.
Price, originally from Madison, W.Va., now serves as the chief financial officer for MVB Financial Corp, the holding company for MVB Bank, MVB Insurance, and the wholly-owned Bank subsidiary MVB Mortgage, which boasts corporate locations throughout West Virginia and northern Virginia. He has also continued to serve his alma mater through participation in B&E’s MBA Advisory Board which serves to provide advice and counsel for the development of the MBA program.
Rewind to 1992, when he was fresh out of the EMBA program. He began in the banking industry, working for One Valley Bank (now known as BB&T). In one form or another, that’s what Price has been doing ever since. He worked in commercial banking until 2009, and then switched gears in 2010 to work in investment banking, helping small private business owners locate capital. Along the way, he’s gained experience in industries such as financial services, energy and healthcare. He also received his designation as a Chartered Financial Analyst in 2003, a feat that requires hundreds of hours of preparation and three rigorous exams.
In the fall of 2013, Price noticed that a former colleague and fellow B&E alum, Larry Mazza, had spoken to students as part of the B&E Distinguished Speaker Series.
“I decided to give (Mazza) a call. I hadn’t seen him in a long time,” Price recalled. The two reconnected and Mazza felt that Price could bring a valuable skillset to the table at MVB.
“I love West Virginia,” Price said. “I always knew I wanted to come back. It was just a matter of a right opportunity. This has allowed me to use my more recently obtained skills. Everything came together at the right time to come back home.”
Right now, MVB is focused on development and building infrastructure, which he said makes work extra exciting. A big part of his job is to incorporate the appropriate technology systems and processes, as well as to build teams that can get people to work together in the planning and forecasting process. He also develops rapport with the management team to receive and respond to feedback.
“The definition of economics is ‘the allocation of scarce resources.’ That’s what I do every day,” Price explained. “I love the challenge of allocating. I come in every morning, I know where I hope to go and what my challenges are. (I’ve) got to strategize with (my) teammates where we’re going to allocate these resources, whether it’s people, capital, energy, time or effort. Which endeavors are we going to allocate the resources to best serve our customers, employees and shareholders?”
Luckily for Price, strategizing with teammates comes second nature thanks to his experience and education in the EMBA program, which he credits with giving him the teamwork ability and technical skills needed to succeed in the industry.
Price’s advice for current students and novice employees is two-fold: become comfortable with negotiation and to be yourself.
“Be a more aggressive negotiator, in everything you do — both class and life,” he said. “You’re conditioned as an undergrad student to put your nose to the grindstone, whatever amount of time it takes, and just do what you’re asked. I remember one of my professors asked us to write 100 one-page reports. We had to turn in 20 a week from a list of very obscure topics. One of my classmates negotiated with the professor to get the number down, and she was successful. I could tell (the professor) basically did that assignment to see if somebody would stand up and negotiate.”
Price also encourages young people to be well rounded and open to new opportunities.
“Don’t try to tailor yourself to the job to make people think you’re the right fit. It’s a big world out there. Don’t get focused on just one single niche,” he said. “If you do something you love and learn as much about it as you can, it will create more opportunities for you that you’ll be able to enjoy every day.”