Tennessee Bankers

Q&A with Derrick Whitten

2020-2021 Young Bankers Division Chairman
Vice President, The Hardin County Bank, Savannah

Derrick Whitten with his wife, Amber, and his children, Reed and Addie.

Derrick Whitten, a vice president at The Hardin County Bank in Savannah, was recently elected as the new Young Bankers Division Chairman. When he began working for the bank 14 years ago, The Hardin County Bank CEO Gordon Majors told Derrick at his hiring that if someone came in asking for “a loan officer,” that would be him. Several years later, Derrick was promoted to vice president and transitioned into commercial lending from consumer lending. Derrick is a 2012 graduate of the Graduate School of Banking at LSU and earned a degree in finance from The University of North Alabama. He lives in Savannah with his wife, Amber, and two kids, Addie and Reed.

Derrick Whitten with The Hardin County Bank President/CEO and former TBA chairman, Gordon Majors

How did you get started in your career in banking?
My plan was to move to Nashville and become an investment banker. Close to college graduation, a series of events lead me to an interview with The Hardin County Bank where I have spent all 14 years of my banking career. Sometimes plans do not happen for a reason.

What is some life or career advice that you’ve gotten and still influences you today?
Never stop learning and become a student of your craft. Our customers are experts at their business—we have to be experts across multiple business models.

Though the current COVID-19 pandemic crisis is still playing out in real time, what lessons or takeaways have you already seen that you would want to remember and pass along to a future banker who hasn’t experienced the crisis? 
Asset quality! A long-term irrevocable commitment to grade A lending will allow your institution to weather the storm. I would also want to say, be patient. Never let a situation overwhelm your decision-making process. 

What goals do you have for the Division over your term as chairman? 
I think the main goal should be to maintain the growth of the Division. We are in a time of social distancing and canceled events. It is not a time to be lax in our engagement with one another. The Young Bankers Division is well suited to take advantage of new technology platforms and stay engaged.

How has engagement with the Young Bankers Division added value to your career and your bank? 
I started attending Young Bankers events 12 years ago and have made countless friends over that time. Many of whom have been  valuable allies during this challenging time. Measurable value has come to my bank through multiple participation opportunities from bankers across the state and from other states. These opportunities would not have been possible without my involvement with the Young Bankers Division. 

As a somewhat hidden talent, you are a very skilled wood worker. Is that something that has always been a passion of yours?
Yes, I love taking a pile of rough sawn wood and turning it into something that can be used in your home for decades. When I was younger, I wanted to help my dad build or fix things. In high school, I spent the summers working for a home builder and was enamored with the process of a new home coming to life.