Proper Recognition

The newly named Kelly S. King Center honors BB&T’s purpose-driven leader.

Campus Welcome: Kelly S. King greets attendees at the 2019 Leadership Conference hosted by The BB&T Leadership Institute.

The newly named Kelly S. King Center honors BB&T’s purpose-driven leader.

BB&T Corporation Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Kelly S. King has long emphasized purpose. King was instrumental in BB&T’s acquisition of Farr Associates in 1994 and led the change in its name and mission to The BB&T Leadership Institute in 2014. It was also King’s vision to build a new, state-of-the-art campus for the institute on a tranquil, wooded 11-acre tract near Piedmont Triad International Airport in June 2018.

So, it’s fitting that the corporation’s board of directors recently voted to rename the campus The Kelly S. King Center, which is the home of The BB&T Leadership Institute. Not only has BB&T grown from a modest farm-and-business lender to a national powerhouse during King’s tenure, but King has fashioned the bank into a purposeful institution that serves the needs of its customers, employees and the communities in which it operates. 

The commitment to leadership development makes sense in the context of King’s purpose-centered values. Building from the revolutionary introduction of psychology-based leadership development by James Farr, Ph.D., in 1956, The Leadership Institute has provided training to the bank’s own employees and clients and, on a tuition-free basis, to public school principals and college students. The training emphasizes self-awareness and understanding how a person’s beliefs affect their behavior. The result for those who have attended the trainings is a sense of purpose inside and outside the workplace. And for BB&T, it’s led to an improved bottom line and higher employee retention.

As King told an interviewer in 2014, “The responsibility and the opportunity to make a really big impact on life is something that each and every one of us owns.”

King’s growth as a business leader models the self-awareness taught at The Leadership Institute. He recalled during a 2019 conversation with Harvard Business School Professor Bill George at The Leadership Institute that the discovery, about 10 years into his banking career, that none of his colleagues felt comfortable making mistakes around him came as a gut punch.

“I started a journey of changing the way I was presenting—because I was climbing the ladder as fast as I could and wasn’t caring about anyone else,” King said. “And it made me feel very sad. And I think all of us getting down to that reality deep down inside of what we really want to do with our lives is really important.”

Kelly S. King

"The opportunity to make a really big impact on life is something that each and every one of us owns." Kelly S. King

By Jordan Green

Photography by Micciche Photography, Inc.

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