Veteran Takes ‘Bridge’ to New Career in Banking at SouthState
Leaving behind a way of life and camaraderie of fellow soldiers can be daunting for some veterans reentering the civilian workforce after years away.SouthState aims to ease this transition for veterans interested in the financial field through a partnership with SkillBridge.
Nearing the end of his military service, Scott Ellsworth traded in explosives for prepaid debit cards when he joined SouthState on Nov. 1. Ellsworth, a staff sergeant with more than seven years in the U.S. Air Force, began as an intern before accepting a full-time position as prepaid cards operations manager.
Ellsworth’s military service follows in the footsteps of the men in his family. His great-grandfather served in the U.S. Army prior to the existence of the Air Force, and his grandfather and uncle were both in the Air Force.
Working on large-scale weapons his predecessors couldn’t have imagined, Ellsworth served as a munitions technician. “It’s a fancy way of saying that I was responsible for building, storing, delivering, inspecting, and maintaining all explosives from bombs, missiles, 20-millimeter rounds, 30-millimeter rounds, to many more explosive military assets,” he explains. His job while deployed, often nicknamed “ammo,” was to build 500-pound and 2,000-pound bombs and deliver them to assigned aircraft.
Ellsworth considered a career change for a while, but naturally felt some apprehension about stepping away from a steady government paycheck. Learning about opportunities available through SkillBridge gave him the push he needed. “I knew that I wanted to pursue my passion more than living in fear,” he recalls. “When I learned of the Department of Defense SkillBridge program, I immediately knew that this would be the conduit for reaching my goals.”
Ellsworth served as an intern with Correspondent Banking in summer 2021 and quickly made his mark with his research on the correlation between net interest margin and return on equity. “Chris Nichols publishing my work on the topic was the highlight of my internship,” he says.
As prepaid cards operations manager, Ellsworth will lead a team of three while researching current trends, working to streamline and improve efficiency, and preparing the department to bring in new technology. The skills and knowledge for building bombs and managing the prepaid cards division vary greatly on the surface, but Ellsworth brings much of his military experience over to banking.
“My entire military career trained me to remain flexible, adaptable and to learn quickly…. (through) on-the-job training as opposed to sitting in classrooms,” he says. “Although the military offered an abundance of challenges, these challenges were coupled with skills and lessons that will forever help me to be a better person.”
SouthState, a SkillBridge partner since 2019, is authorized through the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense to work with veterans and provide training and internship opportunities in preparation for civilian careers. In fact, the bank is one of only a few financial institutions nationwide to participate.