Spotlight on Success: Don Walker

What has been a significant moment in your career?
When I first went to work for Arvest, I was actually interviewed and hired by Sam Walton. I worked for a man who is probably one of the icons of the 21st century. Sam and I went quail hunting, and I asked him if I should go to work for Walmart, and he said, “No, I would prefer you stay in our banking organization and help us grow it.” Laughingly, I question whether that was good advice.
What did you study in college?
This is really interesting: I have a degree in poultry science, a minor in business (from the University of Arkansas). The reason I focused on that is northwest Arkansas was the poultry capital of the world, and, before I got into banking, I did believe that was an important American business.
How do you see banks handling the near future?
The investment banks that made the sub-prime loans, that were putting out credit to people and institutions that really didn’t deserve credit … gave a black eye to the entire banking industry. However, most banks in Oklahoma are not investment banks; they’re commercial banks. The banking industry in Oklahoma will have a tough 2010, no doubt about it, but not as tough as some other areas of the U.S.
What’s an interesting tidbit about your family?
When I got married (in Fayetteville, Ark.), we came to Tulsa to the Camelot for our honeymoon. I’ve always loved Tulsa, so much so that it was my choice for a weekend honeymoon.
What is your top goal for 2010 as chairman of the Chamber?
The current economy frightens all of us. The recession reminds me that the most important thing we can do in this region is create new jobs. My goal will be to work with the businesses that exist now, to see what they need to expand their business, to create new jobs, to absorb some of the unemployment that we have here. I’ve always believed that the chamber is really important to the growth of the community.

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