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Beyond the Boardroom: Busey Bank’s Chip Jorstad | People

Two-degree University of Illinois grad Chip Jorstad outside Alma. (Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette).

The upside of growing up a farm kid, as CHIP JORSTAD did in rural Morris?

“You get to start driving a little earlier,” he says.

And the downside?

“It’s probably a tie between walking beans and baling hay. If you grew up on a farm or around a farm, you can sympathize with the misery of unloading hay bales in the barn on a 100-degree day with alfalfa dust everywhere.

“It might only be topped by walking beans at 6 am with the damp plants tied together between rows, leaving burns around your ankles. I probably started walking beans at age 8 and baling hay at age 12.”

A proud graduate of Nettle Creek Grade School (graduating class: 10) and Morris Community High (224), Jorstad went on to earn two degrees from the UI’s Gies College of Business before embarking on a career in finance that led to his current role — president of credit and bank administration at Busey Bank.

He’s Harper and Oskar’s dad and husband of Jennifer, assistant head for administration in the UI’s physics department and “director of logistics, transportation and time management for the Jorstad household,” Chip says. “I couldn’t do what I do professionally without having her keep us all organized, fed and going to the correct places.”

A member of Central Illinois Business magazine’s 2012 Forty Under 40 team, Jorstad took time out to answer questions from Editor Jeff D’Alessio in the 165th installation of our weekly speed read spotlighting leaders of organizations big and small.

I can’t live without my… coffee. I am fairly well-known around all of the locally owned coffee shops in town and I drink it all hours of the day/night.

The hardest thing about being a leader is… balancing how much to communicate. Too many meetings, emails and discussions cause fatigue, but not providing enough communication can result in misunderstandings and lack of context needed to be effective.

My professional role model is … Michael Jordan. I grew up a Michael Jordan and Chicago Bulls fan. His work ethic, competitive fire and desire to win were second to none.

The three adjectives I hope my staff would use to describe me are … accountable, honest and hard working.

My philosophy on meetings is … they are necessary for communication, culture and relationship building. Meetings are most productive when there is an agenda so everyone knows what is to be accomplished.

Breaks between meetings are preferred.

My single favorite moment of all-time in this job was … helping our clients secure their PPP loans during the outset of the pandemic. The teamwork at Busey Bank was incredible, and we really made a difference for our clients.

It was exhausting because we were dealing with a lot of unknowns and put in a lot of hours, but it was very rewarding.

On my office walls, you’ll find… my college diplomas; a map of Norway, where our family ancestors are from — Stavanger specifically; and a map of the grid of the University of Illinois campus.

I’m frugal in that… I keep clothes well beyond their natural life.

I believe the oldest T-shirt I have is a 1994 Morris High School football state runner-up. I find it nostalgic; my wife would describe it as unnecessary.

If I could trade places for a week with any other business person in town, I wouldn’t mind switching with … dr Robert Easter. Not only is he one of the most intelligent people that I have ever met, but he is selfless and a natural leader.

In a short amount of time, he held positions of leadership that included the dean of the College of ACES, the provost, the chancellor, and the president of the University of Illinois.

dr Easter never had an ego and provided stability in a time when the University of Illinois needed it the most. I can only imagine how fascinating his career was and how many great people that he interacted with during his tenure.

My one unbreakable rule of the workplace is … service excellence in everything we do.

I wind down after work by … spending time with family, friends and the Illini.

The last luxury in which I indulged was… a trip with the Illini men’s basketball team to the Jimmy V Classic in New York, hosted by Illini golf coach Mike Small.

A friend and I purchased the experience at the University of Illinois men’s golf fundraiser and were able to share the experience with our fathers. It was something that we will always remember — and, of course, we beat Texas.

The most beneficial college class I took was … a finance course with Professor Phil Rushing, Introduction to Real Estate. I didn’t know it at the time, but I learned a great deal in that class that I apply every day in banking, particularly as it relates to student housing.

Professor Rushing was a great teacher because he was also a business professional and used real-world problems in class. I was very fortunate to stay in touch with Phil for many years and later get introduced to Po’ Boys on Market Street for Friday night “dinner.”

I’m up and at ’em every day by … 6:15, unless we have kids sports and activities, which usually has the alarm going off around 5 am in those cases.

On a 1-to-10 scale, the impact of the pandemic has been a … rollercoaster. It was a 10 when we were sent home in March 2020 with no idea what was ahead of us personally or professionally.

The Busey Bank executive team provided consistent and steady leadership as we stood up the CARES Act loan programs and eventually facilitated approximately $765 million in first round PPP loans — for 4,595 customers — in around 10 days.

We had associates from all departments and all regions participate in making it successful, all while our retail associates kept our branches operating, and together we navigated the financial side of a global pandemic.

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