College of Health Professions
From Trojan athlete to bank executive: For Luis Martinez, winning is about helping others succeed.
A transfer student from Florida, Luis Martinez II came to Anderson University to play baseball and further himself professionally. Though he majored in kinesiology, Martinez found an opportunity in banking that lined up well with his skillset. He hasn’t looked back. Martinez continues to serve his customers and support his alma mater on the Alumni Board and Board of Visitors. He’s also the city of Anderson’s newest city council member.
Tell me about how you got into banking.
It dates to my time at Anderson University. This would have been the fall of 2009 as a senior. I remember spending quite a bit of time in Career Services. I would tell my counselor my degree is in kinesiology; I have a sports background and I also have my real estate license which I use in the summers. I’m thinking perhaps athletic training, or a pharmaceutical sales position would be a good fit for me. As most senior students, I spent a lot of time applying and looking for opportunities, I was reminded by friends, family and mentors not to get discouraged. Most opportunities will not start to materialize until the spring semester.
I received word in February of 2010 that Wells Fargo Financial had committed to Anderson University that they were going to hire two students. The interview was a five-step process. I remember the applicants were all business majors except for one random kinesiology major that entered his name for consideration (me). It helped that I had a former teammate that was already working at Wells Fargo Financial, and he knew my character and work ethic. He told the company he knew I was high energy, bilingual and that was something they were looking to add to their team. I was fortunate to even get into the mix with the business students, but between him and Jason Rutland, (who said) I know the guy may not meet the criteria, but just appease us and give him a shot.
Ultimately after demonstrating eagerness, aptitude and professionalism, I was one of the two that was selected. There was a young lady by the name of Jill Holliday, now known as Jill Deaton and myself—we were the two who were hired from Anderson University that year.
How did you find out about Anderson University?
I had a family relative that was living in the area. His name is Peter Perdomo. As a teenager I visited Anderson with my parents. I can remember coming and staying at his house, it was about nine hours away from home. After a long road trip, we played catch in the front yard then walked down to what was known as Anderson College. I remember him asking me, “Hey, do you ever think you could see yourself coming here?” I said “I don’t know. It’s far away from home. I don’t think I could see myself leaving Florida.”
Fast forward four or five years later, I was a senior in high school. I had an opportunity to decide between playing Division 2 or going to a junior college in Florida. At that time, it was popular for high school students that had dreams and goals to play major league baseball to go play at a junior college so they would be eligible for the draft every year. After careful thought, I decided to stay home and play at my local junior college. Academically, I graduated with my associate in arts degree. Athletically, it didn’t quite go as planned. I remember thinking to myself, “I’m really at a crossroads here and I have no clue where my next steps are going to be. I would like for baseball to be a part of that, but I’m not sure. My relative Peter was very instrumental in this part; knew the coach at Anderson University, his name was Joe Miller. Peter made a phone call on my behalf to Joe saying “Hey, I don’t know if this guy’s any good … but do you think you can give him a tryout?” Shortly after, I was granted that tryout, and offered a scholarship to play.
Reflecting, I know God was laughing, knowing I said “I’d never see myself coming up this way.” I enrolled in the spring of 2008 as a student athlete.
What are your favorite memories of college?
Meeting my wife and roommates. Recently we were talking about college and the things we enjoyed the most…for me, it was just the environment. I knew that’s where I needed to be, God had me safely and securely in a place where he felt like I was going to live the next chapter of my life.
My wife is a native Andersonian (Hollins Deal Martinez). She grew up here in Anderson, went through Concord, McCants, Hanna and then Anderson University. She attended on a choir scholarship. We met my senior year, her sophomore year at Anderson. After her graduation we got married the summer of 2011.
Tell us about your work with South State Bank.
I’m proud to be a Commercial Relationship Manager. My predominant responsibilities are to cultivate and grow new and existing relationships within the bank. I earn business by being active in the community and providing myself as a trusted advisor. Finances are important, and sometimes they can be intimidating, but having somebody “on the inside” they feel comfortable enough to plan and grow with goes a long way.
How did I get here? I spent a majority of my banking career, from 2010 to 2019 in the retail side of the bank, I was a branch manager for seven of those years. I believe my willingness to learn and my ability to lead helped me throughout my career. When you have high expectations and you are willing to put in the time to do things the right way, you can really accelerate your career.
When I came to Anderson, I was introduced to what true southern hospitality looks like. To me, everything from my experience when I first got here was real and authentic—genuine people that lived here and they wanted to take care of you. Anderson University cultured that experience in me, not only spiritually, but professionally as well. I always felt there was a place for me in Anderson to grow. I felt like I was surrounded by people that naturally wanted to encourage me to reach my potential. That starts with Jason Rutland. That’s somebody who was very close to me as a pitching coach and now professionally remains very close in my network. Although our friendship and our relationship has changed in the last 12 years, it’s only gotten stronger.
So that’s what I do. I take care of people. And this to me is not really a job, it’s more of a calling. I tell people I wake up every morning and I enjoy what I do because I believe that it provides value and impact to the people I serve.
At the end of the day, what gives you the biggest feeling of accomplishment?
I like to serve and impact people’s lives, whether it’s from a business perspective or a personal perspective; I get the opportunity to do that every day. I take tremendous pride in that.
What kind of advice would you give someone who is interested in a career in banking, financial services—that kind of role?
We’re quick to put ourselves in boxes and tell ourselves what we can and cannot do. We have to give ourselves the freedom to dream and set hard goals.
You start with the mindset of saying to yourself “I can achieve anything that I’m willing to put the work in to do” and have an open mind with that. It may be hard, but it’s all about creating relationships. I tell people that you hear the concept that it’s all about who you know. I like to piggyback that by saying it’s also equally important that those people also know you, because you may know a lot of people, but if they don’t know you, then your network may not be as strong as you think it is… it’s equally important to be involved. For an industry like this where you’re in a very visible role and it’s your job to create relationships, you’re going to have to go out and do that. It may be uncomfortable in the beginning. Naturally over time this will get easier.
By doing what I mentioned above you can very quickly start to develop a network of individuals, people you start to see in certain circles. Those individuals we call centers of influence—those are people around you that like to see you be successful. Leverage your alma mater. Anderson University is always looking for opportunities to talk to alumni and make connections. The relationship doesn’t stop once you receive your diploma. You’re forever an alumnus, and the University wants to see you be successful, so use that.
Lastly, if you’re looking to getting into financial services, it’s important, if you’re looking to get into a corporate environment like I am, to have very clear communication with the individuals that are hiring you or your direct report about where you want to go. A lot of times promotions don’t just happen by chance, they happen by plan, they happen by well-articulated goals and metrics that people ask you to accomplish. By being able to achieve a plan that you can check off along the way, that might help you jump start your career to put it on a path to where you want to go.
Tell us about your newest role as city council member.
As of April 2022, I am Anderson’s newest city council member. I serve as the city councilman for the district of Anderson University. I look forward to seeing Anderson continue to flourish and work side by side with other leaders to make Anderson one of the most desirable places to live.
Is local politics something you’ve been considering for a while?
I have great friends that have been involved in local politics for some time now. We started a coffee group several years back. We were young professionals in a similar stage of our lives and trying to create an environment where we could help each other get better, so we called the coffee group Iron Sharpens Iron. In that conversation, I told them, “I love Anderson. I’m passionate about Anderson. I wonder how I can get involved in something locally.
In January of 2022 I formally announced that I was going to run. In April I was sworn in as the new councilman for District 2 for the city of Anderson.
I like to believe that I’m writing a page or a chapter of my story, and I’m trying to write a book that hopefully someone will want to pick up and read.