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People First - Alumni honoree builds relationships, gives back

For 2024 Daniels School Young Alumni Award winner Carlos Banks (BS ’08), the Purdue experience is about people.

Carlos Banks

It began with his aunt, Vanita Banks, an alumna and 2006 Old Master who introduced him to the university and accompanied him on his first visit. It continued with Dr. Cornell A. Bell, the late director of the Daniels School’s Business Opportunity Program (BOP), who cemented his decision to attend Purdue.

“Everything Dr. Bell said really resonated with me,” Banks says. “After that, going to Purdue was a done deal. I didn’t apply anywhere else.”

In addition to BOP, Banks — a finance and accounting major — was also heavily involved on campus, serving as president of the Society of Minority Managers, president of the Management Ambassadors and treasurer of the 82nd Class of the Purdue Chapter of the Mortar Board Senior Honor Society.

He was also a member of the President’s Council and Purdue Black Student Union and received numerous honors, including the Dr. Cornell A. Bell Award, the Purdue Black Caucus Academic and Leadership Awards, and the Outstanding Senior Award, among others.

2007 Mortar Board Ambassadors with Kara Winger 2008 Graduation with fellow ambassadors Laura Kightlinger and Matt Jackson
(Above) Carlos with fellow Purdue Mortar Board member Kara Winger in 2007.  (Below) Carlos at graduation in 2008 with fellow Management Ambassadors Laura Kightlinger and Matt Jackson.

“I had the opportunity to grow and learn with people from a diverse array of backgrounds,” Banks says. “Those lessons were just as important as what I learned in the classroom.”

Banks began his career in professional financial services on Wall Street, spending time at both Goldman Sachs and Deloitte. “I remember my first day at Goldman Sachs vividly,” he says. “They brought in all the new analysts and had us take a series of tests to gauge our business skills. A lot of people struggled, but thanks to the courses I took at Purdue, it was a cakewalk for me.”

After four years in New York City, Banks felt his interest in finance waning. “I no longer had a strong passion for it,” he says. “It didn't really drive me to where I wanted to go, so I began thinking about the next chapter of my career.”

Banks decided to leverage his interest in technology with his foundational skills in business, returning to school to earn his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and his Master of Engineering Management (MEM) from the McCormick School of Engineering – both at Northwestern University. While there, he also completed an internship with Groupon Mobile and worked part-time at Apple.

Upon completing graduate school, Banks joined Genpact – a specialty consulting and execution firm focusing on enterprise process transformation, business analytics and information technology. As assistant vice president and global relationship manager, he oversaw business development and client relationship management for multiple Fortune 500 companies in the consumer goods and retail industries.

Banks’ next career move was to the multinational professional services firm Accenture, where as managing director he focused on the operations business. His work with his clients revolved around harnessing data, automation, analytics and applied intelligence to drive process transformation across large-scale enterprise functions such as finance, marketing, customer service and HR.

“I had the opportunity to grow and learn with people from a diverse array of backgrounds. Those lessons were just as important as what I learned in the classroom.”

Today, Banks is a partner in strategic transformation for IBM, working with senior client executives across a wide range of industries to shape critical enterprise transformation initiatives at the intersection of technology and business.

Indeed, Banks remains a “tech geek” at heart and loves exploring and learning about the latest and greatest in the consumer tech world – the most recent being high-fidelity headphones and audio gear. “I’m more likely to read Gizmodo in the morning than The Wall Street Journal or Financial Times,” he says.

Given the varied stops on his own career path, Banks advises current students not to worry too much about their first job. “Ten years from now, there will be jobs that didn’t even exist today,” he says. “Rather than focusing on money, you need to know what you like and what's most important to you. If you do that, the opportunities will come.”

Banks also remains passionate about giving back to his alma mater, whether it’s through financial gifts or his time. He serves on the boards of the Purdue Black Alumni Organization and Daniels School Alumni Association, is a member of the BOP Leadership Council, and volunteers for Management Leadership for Tomorrow and Sponsors for Educational Opportunity.

“I’m committed to remaining active in organizations that have had a major impact on my life,” he says. “I fully appreciate those who have helped me, and that’s what drives me to help others.”