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Keys to Success

scott jacobsen

Scott Jacobsen '86

Recently appointed president and CEO of NorthStar Bank, Scott Jacobsen ’86 spends his days working to advance the financial interests of small businesses and professionals in the Tampa area. The former history major first caught the banking bug at Dickinson, and his time abroad gave him a global perspective that would help him navigate professional waters down the road. Read on to see the ways in which Jacobsen’s time at Dickinson stays with him, the night he spent in prison (playing basketball!) and how the presidential election provided him with some dinner-partner inspiration.

Can you speak to how Dickinson’s useful liberal-arts approach helped you along your career path?

Dickinson provided me with key problem-solving and critical thinking skills, coupled with a well-rounded education that included the opportunity to study abroad during my junior year in Bologna, Italy, and a banking internship during my senior year. These skills and experiences allowed me to quickly assimilate into the business world and forge relationships that have been key to my success.

What was your favorite organization at Dickinson?

I really enjoyed being a member of the Raven’s Claw. The 100-plus-year-old leadership organization has great traditions of leadership and community service. Being chosen to represent my senior class as one of seven leaders on campus was a tremendous honor. Those leadership skills developed while at Dickinson not only helped me to land my first training job in banking but then positioned me for future promotions and, eventually, president/CEO of a bank.

What jumps out as a great memory from your time at Dickinson?

My JV basketball team played an exhibition game against the inmates at the Camp Hill maximum security prison. We ate dinner with the inmates and guards before taking tours of the cells. The gymnasium was full with very vocal inmates who were rooting for the home team. We didn’t win, but that was OK with us.

How do you stay involved with Dickinson, and why do you think it’s important?

For the first few years, I was the alumni class president, even though I was 1,000 miles away in Tampa, and I never missed a graduation. Most recently, I have attended every one of my five-year reunions.

My fraternity brothers and classmates remain some of my best friends in life. We shared some of the best experiences during some our most formative years. There are no better bonding opportunities than running through the quad with your pledge brothers during a “shakeup” or pulling an all-nighter with your study group for a final exam. It’s important to keep those relationships intact, and the class reunions provide that opportunity.

How did you get interested in your work, and what about it excites you most?

I always liked finance and really enjoyed my Money & Banking course at Dickinson, which got me thinking about a career in banking. Nothing gets me more excited than helping a small-business owner with his or her first loan to buy that new building and piece of equipment to fulfill a contract, hire some more employees and propel them to the next level of success.

What comes to mind as something unforgettable that you’ve done since you graduated?

I was chairman of the Boys and Girls Club of Tampa Bay and helped set the strategic direction to build a $10 million operating budget and a $10 million endowment to serve 10,000 at-risk kids in our community. We are providing great futures with a 92 percent graduation rate of club members, compared their peer’s county rate of 70 percent. There’s nothing more gratifying than seeing some of our kids graduate from college and come back and serve as role models.

If you could have dinner with anyone famous, living or dead, who would it be?

After Nov. 7, it has to be Donald Trump.

You just built a time machine: Where and when do you go?

I would like to go back to circa 1980 and load up on Apple stock.

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Published January 27, 2017