GBA Member Profile

Melissa Dasher
Director of Corporate Security
SouthState Bank, West Point, GA
Member, GBA Security Committee

Q: What was your first job, and was there a lesson you learned there that you still use today?
A: When I was 15, I started my first job at Hallmark, where I worked full-time in customer service, gift wrapping and operating the cash register. The customers were the sweetest; many of them liked to collect things. I worked there for four years from the age of 15 on into college and learned a lot about professionalism. I remember once a little boy came into the store with his dad, who said “go on and hand it to her.” The little boy handed over two dirty, played with, loved on Beanie Babies. The kid had apparently stolen them from us and his dad made him return them. I looked at this poor kid who didn’t want to return his Beanie Babies that he had stolen. I was 15 or 16 at the time, knew he had done wrong but, as a kid myself at the time, felt sorry for him. I had to help teach him the lesson his dad wanted to impart, so I told him it was wrong to steal and that he could get in trouble for stealing. His dad wanted them returned so I didn’t let the boy keep the Beanie Babies, but I didn’t make the dad pay for them either. My manager was upset with me because I didn’t make them pay for the Beanie Babies. (We certainly couldn’t re-sell them.) I just felt like he was punished enough by having to come face me.

Q: What was the most useful piece of advice you received from a mentor (or in the early/formative years of your career)?
A: I had a fantastic manager at BB&T, Maria Drew, who taught me so much early in my career. The biggest lesson she taught was to step out of my comfort zone. I was young and very introverted, especially when it came to public speaking, and she would always assign us something to present to the group when we had in-person meetings. It was terrifying but she managed to get me out of my comfort zone, and that’s probably a big reason why I am where I am today. She put us in uncomfortable positions so we could grow.

When I was 25, I became an internal auditor for BB&T, and I swear I looked like I was 12 years old. As a 25-year-old woman who looked like I had stepped off the high school bus, it was hard to make people take me seriously. I had to stand tall and show them that I was serious about my job but I was always really friendly, too. I wasn’t a “gotcha” auditor looking for things to get people in trouble, instead I used philosophy to train, teach and mentor my branches. If they had an exception, I would of course write it up but I also took time to show them what was incomplete and how to avoid it next time. It was a different approach to internal auditing and I think they respected me for it in the end.

Q: Tell us about one experience you’ve had that exemplifies being a banker or your role at the bank.
A: Around 2013, I was given a project to clean up safe deposit boxes at Charter Bank, which eventually was acquired by CenterState Bank before its merger with SouthState Bank. One of the boxes contained Boy Scout memorabilia such as flags, badges and keepsakes that at one point were so important to someone that they rented a safe deposit box to store them. I decided to track this person down to return his childhood keepsakes to him. The guy didn’t live locally anymore; he had moved to New York, and he was very hard to find. I did all sorts of research, even talked to people who knew him from his hometown. He wasn’t on social media or anything, so I had to search through other avenues and eventually got in touch with him. I asked him several questions to make sure it was the right person and covered all legalities with documentation. I mailed him the contents of the box and later received a handwritten letter from him thanking me. He had actually forgotten about the safe deposit box (life goes on and people forget things), but it was very special and dear to him.

Q: Podcast you recommend?
A: Andy Stanley’s leadership podcast

Q: Book that you love/has made an impact?
A: “Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking” - I read this in college and it opened my mind on how to get into the details/nitty gritty of a topic or situation.

Q: App you recommend?
A: The Headway app. We’re so busy with kids, work and sports, and this app provides 15-minute overviews of books so you get the highlights without having to read the whole book. I like that because I can listen to it while I’m doing other things and traveling.

Q: When you’re not on the job at the bank, what do you like to do?
A: I have two boys, so I love playing with them and working on projects in my yard. I enjoy cutting the grass, being outside, and making the yard pretty… much more than cleaning house.