June 19, 2014

Tapping into a professional network has never been more important than in today’s economy. As the country continues to rebound from the recession and companies begin to expand their workforce, more and more jobs are being filled through networking.  For Rob Selway, B.S. business administration ’07 (MBA ’10), the decision to tap into the Chapman Family and alumni network paid dividends for his success. For this reason, Rob gives back to his alma mater through his time and talent as a mentor and banking professional who is always Thinking Chapman First! Rob is an assistant vice president at Citizens Business Bank. At Chapman, Rob is involved with the Leatherby Center’s eIR Mentor Program, as well as the MBA Career Center Mentors Program, along with Chapman50.  As a young college student, Rob saw firsthand the benefits of what the Chapman University network could do to help advise and educate a shy young man, and in turn, he has looked to repay the Chapman Family.

“It amazes me the extent to which entrepreneurs and Chapman-minded alumni have connected, and the extent to which we have gotten help. Rob is no exception and truly goes above and beyond what you’d expect from anyone to help you out. He’s helped us with research, given us advice on topics and sent people our way who could get great value from us or who could really help us in our struggles. He really does help exemplify what it’s like to be a Chapman alumnus: helping out, showing respect, and taking a serious interest in the wellbeing of others.” – Jack Litchfield ’11, CEO and founder of Kitchen Wizard

“Rob was very helpful during the course of the mentor program. He was able to explain typical career trajectories for people who work in the fields that I was interested in learning more about. Rob was more than willing to arrange introductions with people he thought I should meet or people I was interested in meeting. Through these introductions I was able to gather career advice from a wide and diverse group of people which has been instrumental in helping me plan my career.” – Alex Street (MBA ’15)

We recently caught up with Rob to find out more about why it is so important to him to give back and why he feels strongly about the strength and importance of the Chapman University network.

Tell us about your career- what do you do on a day to day basis?

As a relationship and portfolio manager with Citizens Business Bank, my focus is to manage, find and develop new business relationships. My duties include underwriting, financial analysis, relationship expansion, client retention, prospecting, industry analysis, and monitoring of credit quality for manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and professional service companies with annual revenues usually between $2 – $400 million. Headquartered in Ontario, CA, Citizens Business Bank is a pure business bank that solely focuses on privately held middle market companies. Citizens Business Bank specializes in investor real estate, acquisition financing, equipment loans, working capital lines of credit, asset based lines of credit, owner occupied real estate loans, SBA 504 loans, and multi-family investor real estate loans. On a daily basis I provide much more flexible, personalized, and affordable loans and treasury services to business clients than you would see at one of the large consumer banks.

What insight would you give to current students and alumni who are searching for employment?

Do not be afraid to network. It is an acquired skill that you develop over time and the single greatest tool available to students and alumni who are searching for a career. Search for just that, a career, not a job. Use the tools and career service professionals on campus; they are there to help you and can help guide you in you a career search. Ask your friends, family, professors, and mentors for introductions and advice to those in an industry you would like to get in to. It never hurts to ask and you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. When you find someone willing to meet with you come prepared with a list of questions to ask and only offer up your resume if they ask for it. Most people do anyway, but it is considered more professional to ask for advice, rather than ask for a job.

What advice do you have for current students who want to make the most out of their time at Chapman?

The great thing about going to such a well-respected and historic collegiate institution is that there are almost always students who have had a similar question or experience in the past. Another Panther has been in your shoes before. There are numerous tools and activities available to current students to make the most out of their time at Chapman; all you have to do is participate in them. Utilize and befriend the existing network of professors, faculty members, friends, roommates, resident advisors, teammates, coaches, and staff that are there to help you get the most out of your time at Chapman. Enjoy college while it lasts, but find the time to plan for the future. Finding the right balance in school, work, and life is how to become happy and successful. Having colleagues and friends that want to help you become successful and happy makes it a lot easier than trying to find that balance on your own.

From your time at Chapman, which faculty member(s) made the greatest impact on you and why?

Professor Doetkott taught an inspirational public speaking class that helped me conquer my fear of public speaking. Professor Doti teaches a macroeconomics class that is my personal favorite. Professor Dehning in the accounting department takes more time to mentor his students than any other professor I have ever met. Professor Browne in the business school has the best stories. Coaches Ian and Bokosky have been guiding student athletes for more years than I can count. Professor Wheatley finds a way to make even a statistics class fun. I attended the youth sports camps put on by the Athletic Department as a child, the baseball and soccer camps at Hart Park, but most importantly the Running Panther Basketball Camp in the gymnasium in 1994. Coaches Ian and Bokosky installed a sense of Panther Pride that registered even with a chubby 10-year-old NJB basketball center. These professionals and staff members are the biggest reason why we should “Think Chapman First”.

How has the Chapman University network helped you in your professional and personal life?

Chapman University took a shy kid with little understanding of the world and turned him into a successful commercial banker. All I had to do was buy into the concept of the university and alumni community. It was as simple as that; the system is set up for people who want to be successful. Like anything in life, you get out of it what you put into it. Those who try harder and start sooner will get more out of it than those who sit on the sidelines. Developing valuable personal relationships in life and business is hard, but with the guidance of the alumni community it made it a lot easier for me. I bought my first suit and printed out my first resume for a Career Services Fair Day in 2006. I asked every business professor I knew to make introductions and recommendations for me in the industry I wanted to get into. Finally one did. An eMBA alumnus in the commercial banking industry was kind enough to have lunch with me and give me some invaluable advice. This single networking act of a mentor Thinking Chapman First is why I still Think Chapman First to this day and am indebted to this mentor for pointing me in the right direction. I applied to the internships listed in Symplicity (formerly PantherConnect), I brought coffee to the offices of the people I wanted to meet, but most importantly I took the time to befriend a mentor who personally advised me throughout the whole process and still does today.

 How were you involved on campus as a student?

  • Center, Chapman University Men’s Basketball Team
  • Student Athletic Advisory Council (SAAC)
  • Academic All-American Honorable Mention 2005 and 2006
  • Team Captain of Chapman Men’s Basketball Team 2007
  • Single Season Offensive Rebound Record Holder
  • George L. Argyros MBA Graduate Fellowship
  • Provost’s List

How have you been involved with Chapman since graduating?

  • Licensed California Notary Public
  • Chapman University Young Alumni Committee Member (CUYA)
  • President’s Circle Member
  • Chapman MBA Mentor
  • Chappy Hour Participant
  • Alumni Networking Round Table Participant
  • Chapman Chats: Student and Alumni Perspectives- Alumni Facilitator
  • Career Services Panelist (“How to Find a Job in 2013” and “The Panther Alumni Experience 2014”)
  • Chapman Real Estate Association Member
  • Entrepreneur in Residence for the eVillage (eIR)
  • Loyal Supporter and Attendee of the Chapman Economic Forecast and Bi-Annual Update
  • Chapman50 Member