Posted by Philip Poole on 2014-05-14

By Jimmy Lichtenwalter

After graduating this week, Samford University entrepreneurship major Katie Sims and finance major Hamilton Bailey will immediately be taking the next step to advance their careers. Both have been accepted to join the prestigious BBVA Compass LEAP (Learning, Evaluation, Application, Placement) program. This selective training program acquires young talent out of college and gives them training and an overview of the banking profession.


Both are scheduled to graduate from Samford's Brock School of Business on Mary 16. Sims is from Windermere, Fla. Bailey is from Atlanta, Ga., and was a member of Samford's basketball team.

According to Sims, the LEAP program "gives the opportunity to learn about BBVA Compass, be evaluated on our technical and business skills, rotate throughout the bank to gain hands on experience, and then finally get placed in any of their large metro areas."

"I see LEAP as somewhat of a bridge linking you from being a full time student to a full time professional," said Bailey. "I believe LEAP will allow me to learn not only the ins and outs of banking but how to genuinely conduct myself as a working professional. The relationships I develop and the tools I learn will be able to last me a lifetime in whatever I do."

Both Sims and Bailey had to undergo an extensive interview process before getting accepted into LEAP.

"I was in a whirlwind of five separate interviews spanning the course of three days," said Bailey. "At the end of the day of my third interview I received a phone call informing me that I was officially being offered a position in the LEAP program."

Similarly, Sims went through a series of five interviews over the course of a single day before she was offered her position.

Bailey and Sims both say the LEAP program will be incredibly beneficial, and what they take away from this prestigious program will likely aid them for the rest of their professional lives.

"The relationships that I will form with both the fellow leapers and the bank's top executives will be invaluable," said Sims.

"The relationships I develop and the tools I learn will be able to last me a lifetime in whatever I do," agreed Bailey.

Sims and Bailey were chosen for the program from among 600 applicants nationally. Samford has a longstanding relationship with BBVA-Compass. Birmingham-based Compass Bank merged with Spain-based BBVA in 2007.

Jimmy Lichtenwalter is a journalism and mass communication major and a news and feature writer in Samford's Office of Marketing and Communication.