As a fourth-generation OSU graduate, Michael “Mike” Banks earned his accounting degree in 1975. With 43 years of experience in the accounting and real estate industries, Banks lives and works in Stillwater. Banks is a Certified Public Accountant and president of Banks & Banks, CPA, PC. He also is the managing member of Banks Properties, LLC.
Banks was recently elected to serve as an international director of Lions Clubs International, the world’s largest service club organization with more than 1.4 million members in over 200 countries or geographic areas. He has been a member of the Stillwater Noon Lions Club since 1990.
We recently asked Banks about how his successful accounting career is allowing him to serve his community, both locally and internationally.
Tell us a little about your roots.
Stillwater is home. My wife and I live on land that was owned by my maternal grandparents. My family was one of the first families of Payne County, Oklahoma. I lived in several other states while my dad finished his military service and graduate studies. We eventually moved back to Stillwater and I graduated from Stillwater’s C. E. Donart High School. I am proud to be the fourth generation to graduate from OSU (Class of 1975) and even more proud my daughter is the fifth generation to graduate from OSU (Class of 2005). After graduation, I went to work for a national public accounting firm. In 1989, I was most fortunate to have the opportunity to return to Stillwater.
Why did you decide to pursue accounting at OSU?
In high school, I excelled in math, science and bookkeeping. My father (OAMC Class of 1952) has a Ph.D. in Botany. During summer breaks, I worked at the OSU research stations in Stillwater and in Perkins. I thought a career in business would be a better choice. My mother (OSU Class of 1969) is a CPA so I had a general idea of what accountants did and the program at OSU. My parents had agreed to pay for college, and I could go anywhere I wanted as long as it was located in Stillwater. The College of Business seemed like a perfect fit.
How did Oklahoma State help shape your career?
The College of Business accounting program is one of the best in the country. My accounting professors challenged us with difficult accounting situations including many from prior Certified Public Accounting licensing exams. My involvement in Beta Alpha Psi (honorary accounting fraternity) and the Business Student Council gave me leadership experience to complement the academics.
What is a fond memory from your time at OSU?
I have many fond memories from attending OSU. It is hard to settle on just one. The major focus in the accounting department was to promote a career in public accounting. To stimulate interest in corporate accounting, Exxon offered to take the Beta Alpha Psi chapter members to their headquarter offices in Houston and to an oil refinery nearby over spring break. It was a great trip, and the experience was helpful when I began auditing companies across the Midwest.
What are some accomplishments that you are proud of since leaving OSU?
My career has several milestones including becoming an audit manager after six years of experience, and later beginning a tax practice. The most satisfying is the benefits I receive from serving as a Lion. As International Director, I have the privilege to see the contributions of Lions around the world and especially in the United States. Fortunately, my business success has made it possible for me to spend more time serving others.
How did you get involved with the Lions Club?
When I returned to Stillwater, I was looking for a way to be more involved in the community. I checked out several civic clubs. I chose the Stillwater Noon Lions Club because it fit with my busy schedule as a single parent with sole custody of three young children. The Lions’ motto, “We Serve” expressed commitment to community service.
What are some responsibilities of the International Director of the Lions Club?
International Directors are board members of the Lions Clubs International. They make the decisions that help 1.4 million Lions in over 200 countries or geographic areas to continue to serve and even expand their worldwide community service. I am also a member of the Auditing Committee and the Finance and Operations committees. In addition, an International Director is the key representative to clubs and districts. We carry the President’s message to Lions throughout our area, which in my case is the United States. We regularly participate in events. An International Director serves for two years. Although this year just started July 1, I have already received many requests to visit districts in 10 different states.
What advice would you give to current students at OSU?
OSU provides many opportunities to explore ideas and possibilities. So, enjoy your OSU college experience. But remember to study hard and get involved in service and social activities. Your future may be uncertain, and setbacks will happen. A setback is not a failure but can be a stepping stone to future success. Looking back, my greatest opportunities and successes came after setbacks. So, you should be ready to act upon them and to be willing to take risks. Don’t sell yourself short. You will succeed with hard work and determination and don’t forget to set aside time to volunteer in the service of others. The reward is priceless.
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