Scott Wilfong, C'72
For J. Scott Wilfong, president and CEO of SunTrust Bank of Greater Washington, success is not necessarily measured by what you accumulate financially, but by the type of person you become and the difference you make in the lives of others. In that regard, Wilfong is a wealthy man indeed.
Wilfong gives as much of himself outside of the office as he does within it by way of countless volunteer activities. That’s saying quite a lot about a man who heads the Washington, D.C., headquarters of one of the nation’s largest banking organizations.
He admits that the Mount played a key role in his way of thinking. “What the Mount does extraordinarily well is help you develop a core foundation of values and beliefs,” he explains. “And an understanding of how that core foundation will define your idea of success.”
Wilfong, who grew up in a Catholic family in Baltimore, came to the Mount at the direction of his father. “When it was time for me to go to college,” he says, “my dad drove me up to the Mount and told me, ‘You’re going to love it here.’ And I did.”
The future banker was drawn to economics early on. “The economy impacts every aspect of our lives—politically, socially, financially,” he notes. “Wars are created because of economics. Living and educational standards are created because of economics.”
After graduating from the Mount in 1972 with a degree in economics, Wilfong, who also has an MBA from Loyola College, was offered a position with the management training program at the Equitable Trust Company in Baltimore. Of those early days, he recalls, “I was learning a lot and working hard. I’m not sure I had decided at that point if banking was going to be my ultimate career choice, but it was pretty fascinating.”
He remained with Equitable for nine years. He next joined First National Bank of Maryland, where he worked for the next 15 years and was responsible for overseeing the retail, middle market and small business activities. In 1997, he joined a SunTrust predecessor. He then became president and CEO of SunTrust Bank, Maryland, and then more recently president and CEO of SunTrust Bank in Atlanta from 2002 to 2005.
Even after three decades, he is still intrigued by the workings of the industry. “One day, I might be at a chicken-plucking plant,” he says, “and the next day I’m at Northrop Grumman at a high-tech research facility for defense weapons. And then on another day I’m in Gaithersburg visiting a biotech lab that’s conducting break-through biotechnology research.”
Wilfong is especially drawn to the people aspect of the profession. “When you think about it, you are part of some of the most exciting times in people’s lives—their first car, their first house,” he says. Adding with a laugh, “If we could just figure out how to deliver babies, we’d do it.”
But he does not only attempt to touch lives through his work. He is generous in giving of his time and talents to many different organizations and activities—including the Mount, where he currently serves on the board of trustees.
Just while living in Atlanta, Wilfong served on the boards of the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, Central Atlanta Progress, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Police Foundation and St. Joseph’s Hospital, among others. And he was chairman of the Economic Development Committee for the Metropolitan Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and served on its executive committee.
He has also served on the boards of the Baltimore Development Corporation, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Catholic Charities, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond - Baltimore Branch, Greater Baltimore Alliance and Mercy Health Services, Inc.
Currently, Wilfong, who was named 2001 Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals for the State of Maryland, is serving as chair of the American Heart Walk in 2007.
“My father used to say, ‘Every time you leave the park make sure it is in better shape than when you went into it,’” reflects Wilfong. “I guess society is my park. Through my work and other activities I want to be part of the process of leaving it better.”