Michael Jolly, State Bank of Cross Plains

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Michael Jolly, controller, State Bank of Cross Plains.
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What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

State Bank of Cross Plains is a company that has seen significant growth since I started with them in 2015, growing from a total assets amount of $770 million in 2015 to more than double that at the end of 2021, with $1.675 billion of total assets. We will be growing significantly in the next year with the recent announcement of our merger with Monona Bank. The growth of the bank has continued to provide new challenges and allowed me the opportunity to take on these challenges and advance my career with the company. I am fortunate to work with an amazing accounting team that is always striving to gain efficiencies. While we have doubled in size since the time I started, we have been able to adapt and change and keep our accounting team the same size.

Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

The person I admire most in business is my father, Tom Jolly. I have learned from him since I was young that hard work pays off and to always keep a positive outlook on things. I directly attribute the successes that I have had to date in my career to what he has taught me. Additionally, I have been fortunate to have good mentors and supervisors throughout my career. My current and past supervisors have empowered me to take on new challenges and learn new things, allowing me to grow professionally and become a better leader.

What has been the high point of your career so far?

I have had several unique “high points” of my career thus far. I am proud of the designations that I have worked hard to achieve, as I am a certified public accountant (CPA) and certified fraud examiner (CFE). My first job out of college as an asset-based lending auditor allowed me to travel to different parts of the country every week and work with many different types of businesses. I also had the unique opportunity with a co-worker to uncover a $1.5 million fraud that had been hidden for years. Lastly, I had the unique challenge and opportunity to oversee the accounting function of our bank in late 2019 after our chief financial officer left for another opportunity. This was a critical time for the bank, as we were in the middle of a merger with another local community bank.

Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Make it a point to continuously learn and be comfortable asking questions and challenging the way things are done to look for a better way to do things. Always be open to taking on new challenges and don’t allow yourself to become complacent. Be patient, and don’t forget to celebrate what you have accomplished before moving onto the next task/challenge.

What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?

Dane County truly has the best of everything and something for everybody. We are fortunate to have all the good things that come with a large city — diverse food options, music, art, and theater — but also have many areas where you can escape to enjoy the outdoors. I am fortunate to live next to the Yahara River Trail, and I take advantage of this great nature trail every day by running or going for a bike ride. Additionally, Dane County has so many good, quality organizations that you can volunteer for.

Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?

While I am often thought of as being the “quiet man behind the curtain” accountant, many would be surprised to learn that I thrived as a salesperson at my college job for a retail store. I was frequently the top performer for selling the store’s credit card to customers, routinely getting 70-plus customers in a month to sign up for the credit card. In one specific month, I was able to get over 200 customers to sign up for the store credit card.

What are your guilty pleasures?

I love spending time with family. We spend almost every weekend day with our parents. Both my parents and my wife’s parents are divorced, with some having since re-married. This has afforded our kids the opportunity to have even more grandparents and grandparent-like figures who love them. I also love running and make it a point to run every morning. I enjoy starting my day by running and listening to a variety of podcasts. This routine helps me set the tone for making each day a success.

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