1981. This was the year Mze Wilkins started her career in banking.
Banking was different then – no online banking, mobile banking, ATMs or automated deposits. The 80s was a decade marked by a rapidly-changing regulatory environment, increased competitive pressures, and unstable economic conditions, which resulted in a significant concentration of banking.
It was during this time, Mze realized that people truly bank with people, not the institution. She developed a deep appreciation for cultivating an incomparable banking experience with each one of her customers – a relational experience rooted in trust, follow-up and follow-through. It was also during this time she realized that staying loyal to her home state would become a competitive advantage as she aimed to rise through the ranks of a competitive, and primarily male-dominated, financial industry.
Born in Darlington, South Carolina, Mze attended Columbia College. Her business courses sparked an interest in banking and gave her the skills to land her first job as a customer service representative at Banker’s Trust of South Carolina, a small independent bank. This experience began what is now nearly a 40-year banking career.
Mze started down a 25-year path ascending the ranks of banking institutions that ultimately became Bank of America. She learned valuable leadership and banking lessons, navigating through various diverse leadership and banking roles. In 2006, Mze joined Ameris Bank as a senior commercial banker, and quickly began her leadership ascension. She became a commercial banking manger and then Columbia, SC market president. In 2018, Mze was named Ameris Bank’s regional president for the state of South Carolina.
Through all Mze’s professional growth, she remains true to her humble banking beginnings – never taking for granted the relationships she has with her customers and the need for being a strong community advocate and supporter. Her community passion is personally delivered through her board service with Junior Achievement of Greater South Carolina, Certified Development Corporation, Carolina Children’s Home and Lake Murray Presbyterian Church.
In 2018, Mze was recognized as a Women of Influence by the Columbia Regional Business Report, honoring her for her professional career and work to make the South Carolina Midlands a better place. In 2016, she received the Distinguished Volunteer Award from the Midlands Technical College Foundation, recognizing the time, talent and resources she has given to the college, as she served on the Midlands Technical College Foundation Board of Trustees for 10 years and is a past chairmanchairperson.
Today, in 2019, on International Women’s Day (and every day), Ameris Bank is proud to recognize Regional President Mze Wilkins. Banking is very different today compared to when Mze started her career nearly 40 -years ago. But Mze’s dedication to leadership, exceptional banking, and avid support of her beloved community is unwavering and will continue steadfast for years to come.