Dr. Chuck Millhollan loves learning. Not for the sake of earning a degree (although he holds four formal degrees and nine certifications), but because his pride as a practitioner pushes him to understand the latest innovations and skills within his field of work.
“I’m constantly looking for some way to develop, and my studies have directly led to my progression in my career,” shares Dr. Millhollan. “This is going to sound goofy, but I’ve never sought a degree or a certification to be more marketable. I do it because I want that structured approach to learning a new skill that I can apply somewhere. And that professional growth over time has led to my senior leadership role within the financial services industry.”
That senior leadership role is as Senior Vice President of Operational Process Excellence with Farm Credit Mid-America. Farm Credit Mid-America is the second largest farm credit Association with approximately 30 billion in total earning assets. They provide financial services to farmers and rural residents for things like real estate, housing, equipment, and crop insurance.
Dr. Millhollan started at Farm Credit Mid-America around the time he earned his Doctorate of Professional Studies in Information Management from the iSchool. He began as Vice President of Process Improvement & Execution. He spent three years in that position before his promotion to his current title. In his senior role, it’s Dr. Millhollan’s responsibility to facilitate the business and strategic planning processes while also leading the Operational Process Excellence team.
There’s excitement in Dr. Millhollan’s voice as he describes his work at Farm Credit Mid-America. He expresses passion toward the technicalities of his job, but he seems even more passionate about the culture and team he’s had the opportunity to build. “When I joined the team, it was structured differently, and I had the opportunity to build this team over time,” shares Dr. Millhollan. “I’ve been with them for about seven years now. Farm Credit has the culture that everybody else wants. There’s a work-life balance that’s unprecedented in any other position I’ve ever held. We invest in our people and my growth opportunity is hundred percent within the Farm Credit system.”
In addition to his work with Farm Credit Mid-America, Dr. Millhollan is also a professor and program manager at the University of Louisville. He’s developed courses emphasizing project management for an MBA program. He is also the author of the University of Louisville College of Business’ Corporate and Executive Education project and program management training and certificate program. “I have one primary role as a practitioner, but because of my experiences, I also develop curriculum and teach because I want to pass on that knowledge to my professional peer group,” says Dr. Millhollan.
And it’s not just through formal education that Dr. Millhollan passes on his wisdom. His years of experience in portfolio management, consulting, and process analysis puts him in a natural leadership position, even among those he doesn’t formally lead. He happily advises all those who wish to follow his desirable “career path.”
“There is no such thing as a career path. You have the opportunity to ensure you are ready for the next role in advance of that next role becoming available for you,” says Dr. Millhollan. “There are four things to focus on. Do I have the right professional network? Have you invested in yourself professionally? Are you blooming where you’re planted? And the fourth piece is timing. Of the four, I can control the first three. I can develop my network, invest in myself, and do well where I am. And if I’m not doing those, timing is never going to help me. If a position becomes available and I haven’t done the other three, I’ve lessened my eligibility.”
The advice Dr. Millhollan prescribes is obviously something he follows. He’s spent years building his professional network to make sure those around him know his skill set. He continues to learn and is currently enrolled at ABA Stonier Graduate School of Banking, in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School, to understand the financial world further. And he’s committed to his team and his work as a practitioner. All that combined with his drive and passion had led him to success.
“I am truly blessed for what I do for a living,” says Dr. Millhollan. “I’ve never worked a day in my life, quite frankly.”