Jimmy Sawyers (’96)
“I’m so grateful that CBU had the vision to launch an evening program so those who worked full-time during the day could attend classes at night. The evening program, combined with first-class instructors on advanced technology, helped so many obtain their degrees and get an in-depth and practical education. The enthusiasm and care exhibited by those involved in the evening program changed the lives of many and created many entrepreneurs who are continuing to pay it forward.”
Jimmy Sawyers grew up in rural West Tennessee and was the first person in his family to graduate from college. His father was abandoned by his parents during the Great Depression and only managed to complete an 8th-grade education, but he worked hard to make sure his son would have a better life than he did. Jimmy credits his parents’ encouragement, along with “the kindness and help of the nice people at Reynolds, Bone & Griesbeck” (his employer at the time), for allowing him to attend CBU and graduate with his BS in Information Technology Management and Telecommunications in 1996.
Prior to his employment at Reynolds, Bone & Griesbeck, Jimmy had been employed at Merchants State Bank for nine years and left as Vice President of Operations & Technology. He spent 14 years at Reynolds, Bone & Griesbeck as Director of Consulting and ended up starting his own business, Sawyers & Jacobs LLC, with cofounder Joshua Jacobs (’05, MBA ’08) in 2009. The firm, headquartered in Collierville, works with community-based financial institutions in 30 states — many in rural areas — on a variety of consulting services, including tech strategy, risk management, IT audit, cybersecurity, tech support, and system selection. Sawyers & Jacobs recently opened satellite offices in St. Louis and Northwest Arkansas.
Jimmy also serves on the faculty of five banking schools, teaching courses in technology, payments, and cybersecurity courses — including the Barret Graduate School of Banking at CBU, where he has been on the faculty for 23 years. He also teaches at the Virginia Bankers Association School of Bank Management at the University of Virginia, Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University, Mississippi Bankers Association School of Banking at the University of Mississippi, and the Southeastern Graduate School of Banking at Belmont University. He is also regularly invited to speak and/or teach at banking industry events around the nation.
In addition to his service on the faculty of five banking schools, Jimmy is passionate about helping young people launch careers in banking and technology and regularly speaks to students about careers in tech and cybersecurity. He was involved in shaping the Cybersecurity & Digital Forensics program at CBU by providing input and recommendations to the School of Sciences, School of Business, and members of the program’s faculty.
Jimmy is a member and past deacon of Collierville Christian Church. He volunteers and supports various charities in the Memphis and St. Louis areas that focus on serving the needs of the homeless and disadvantaged youth. He also serves on the boards of the Collierville Chamber of Commerce and Collierville Partners in Education. Sawyers & Jacobs annually supports St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through its annual Bank Bowl event, where bankers are invited to come together to bowl to raise money for the hospital — thus far totaling more than $60,000 in the six years it has been held.
Jimmy credits his success to his CBU education and says that the opportunities it created have allowed his three children — Courtney, Clark, and Ben — also to become college graduates and live a life their grandfather never imagined. In fact, Clark Sawyers (’18) was one of CBU’s first Cybersecurity & Digital Forensics graduates.
No matter where one starts… no matter how meager one’s background… opportunity is available to all with persistence, hard work, and enthusiasm for lifelong learning. CBU provided the environment for me, an unremarkable student, to achieve and succeed in business and in life while not forgetting how fortunate I was to have the support and encouragement of others who had gone before me. Now, it’s incumbent upon me to create opportunities for others and give back to the people and institutions that helped me along my path.