Kenneth Friedel has taken an unusual career path in his more than 30-year career in the banking business.
Before taking a job in August as senior vice president and director of corporate strategies at American State Bancshares — the holding company of three Kansas banks, including Rose Hill Bank — the Wichita North High graduate was a consultant for 15 years in Kennedy and Coe’s financial institutions group.
“I enjoyed the diversity of the projects and the ability to help so many clients in banking and other industries,” he said of his job at Kennedy and Coe.
The 55-year-old’s resume also includes stops at the former American National Bank and Hutchinson National Bank, as well as managing two start-up companies: one that provided check and data processing for banks, the other a developer of software for banks.
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He attended Wichita State University but graduated from Kansas State University in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in general business administration.
The common thread in all those jobs, Friedel said, has been his role as a facilitator, helping an organization or group of people reach a goal or overcome a problem.
He liked that work enough that he has attained credentialing as a Certified Professional Facilitator from the International Association of Facilitators and Certified Master Facilitator from the International Institute for Facilitation.
“If I can help create organization from chaos or make a big challenge doable, that’s rewarding,” Friedel said.
He plans to put that training to work in his role at American State, where his responsibilities will include strategic planning, succession planning, mergers and acquisitions, process improvements and special projects.
“This was a chance to fit the strategy with the organization and the management,” Friedel said.
Q. Your first job in banking was working for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the regulator of nationally chartered banks. What was that experience like?
A. I started in the middle of the ag crisis. It was a really rough time to be a bank regulator. We had 100 percent turnover in that (OCC) duty station.
Q. What did working for the OCC for 31/2 years teach you?
A. You learn the fundamentals of both banking and risk management, and working with people, including times when people are under duress.
Q. In the past few years you have sought formal training and certification as a facilitator. How did that happen?
A. As it turns out, I’ve used facilitation techniques in all of my roles. I never knew until my last few roles that it could be a role in and of itself.
Q. What do people want you to do when they engage you as a facilitator?
A. Work through a problem or fulfill a vision. That seems to be the two things people want.
Q. What is one thing most people don't know about you?
A. I love being outdoors. It’s probably the only reason I play golf, because I’m no good at it. Hiking a mountain trail is my idea of the best place to be.