Donald A. Robert may be only 34 years old, but he has worked for U.S. Bancorp, almost without interruption, for half his life.
Mr. Robert, who was recently named president of the Portland, Ore.-based bank's Credco subsidiary, received a college scholarship from the bank when he was a high school senior in 1977.
"It was a free ride through school with a guaranteed job," said the North Portland native. "It was kind of a plum back then."
Mr. Robert attended Oregon State University at Corvallis for three 12-month school years interspersed with two one-year stints of paid work at U.S. Bank branches. (The scholarship is no longer offered.)
After graduating in 1982 with a degree in business administration, Mr. Robert began his career at U.S. Bancorp. His first job was operations manager and general loan officer at U.S. Bank of Oregon's Hollywood branch.
Since then, he has risen through a series of positions, including head of commercial, real estate, and consumer loan portfolios for a group of branches in western Oregon, vice president for automotive programs, and president of LenderNet, a bank subsidiary.
He lists among his accomplishments helping to develop and implement the bank's first automated credit scoring system as well as an electronic auto and realty loan origination network.
Mr. Robert joined Credco Inc. in March 1993 as chief operating officer. In February of this year, he was named president of the Carlshad, Calif., company.
"Generally, my charge has been to lead the change to becoming an information management company," he said. "That has meant technology development, distribution of new products, and restructuring of the sales force."
Credco products include a consumer credit report that combines data from the big three credit reporting bureaus. The company also sells an on-line mortgage risk score to assist lenders in evaluating the credit-worthiness of consumers.
"One of my primary goals is to elevate Credco from being a necessary evil to lenders to becoming a strategic partner," said Mr. Robert. "There is a great deal of information we have been able to archive, along with the sale of the [credit] score."
Mr. Robert wants to provide banks and other mortgage lenders with more data about trends.
Mother goal, he said, is to expand Credco's offerings, in part because its traditional business has been tied to the ups and downs of fickle homebuyers.
Mr. Robert sees potential in other businesses that need information on consumers' credit histories, such as car dealers.
"We have done this with a great deal of success over the last two years," he said. As a result, Credco's business has become "much less cyclical."
Mr. Robert said going to Credco was "a very comfortable move."
But he recalls a brief period when he thought his career might take a different path.
In 1986, he left the bank for what he calls "a nine-month stint as a stock jockey at Merrill Lynch."
"I just quit [U.S. Bancorp]. I was going to get rich," he said.
But, finding the new job unrewarding, he returned to the bank in 1987 - not long before the October stock market crash.