Interior Secretary Nominee Sally Jewell Has Roots In Banking

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WASHINGTON — President Obama's pick for secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, may be most well known as the head of outdoor company REI, but she's also got a background in banking.

Jewell, who has led REI since 2005, got her start as an engineer in the oil industry and later moved into financial services.

"Back in the late '70s, when oil prices were soaring, banks were all looking for engineers with experience in energy, to help them evaluate loans to energy companies," Jewell told the New York Times in 2007. "I turned down $350 million in loans in my first year because I didn't feel the collateral was sufficient. That impressed the chief credit officer, and in 1985, when I was just 29, he made me his deputy."

She later moved on to the now-defunct Washington Mutual, where she built the bank's commercial lending practice.

But Jewell has said that despite all of her career changes, her love of the outdoors has endured.

"In those first jobs, I'd bike seven and a half miles to work and keep the bike at the local athletic club," she said in the Times story. "Later, when I had an executive bathroom, I'd park my bike there. Lots of bankers would take clients out golfing; I'd take them skiing."

She added: "And I still bike to work. The difference is, biking to work seemed strange to bankers. At R.E.I., it's normal behavior."

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