Pfeiffer announces recipient of Presidential Merit award

By Ken Keuffel, for Pfeiffer University

Charles Ingram (Class of 2011, 2014 MBA), the recipient of this year’s Presidential Merit Award, made the most of what Pfeiffer offered during his time as a student. Since then, he has leveraged his education to build a promising career in finance.

Charles Ingram

The Presidential Merit Award, which is given by Pfeiffer’s President to alumni who are 35 or younger, have excelled early in their careers, and show potential for continued success, celebrates Ingram’s career accomplishments.

In 2014, three years after he completed his undergraduate studies, Ingram added an MBA to a trove of Pfeiffer credentials that have helped make him a rising star in the finance circles of Charlotte. This past April, he became a middle market underwriter and portfolio manager at First Citizens Bank, where he began working as a commercial portfolio manager in 2017.

For Ingram, the biggest challenge was getting a foot in the door of the first bank that employed him. Doing so enabled him to discern which aspect of banking did not suit him and which one did. He learned that he is not cut out for retail banking, which he did for about the first 15 months of his banking career and that he is well suited for commercial banking, which he has done with the kind of success that has resulted in several promotions.

Today, Ingram is playing a key role in evaluating loan applications from companies that generate as much as $750 million in revenues each year. He hopes to one day become a chief credit officer, either for a bank or the division of one.

Ingram said he’s gravitated to the credit side of banking because he’s always enjoyed working with numbers. He also likes the challenge of learning about a company, its vision and whether a loan it’s requesting squares with what he calls a bank’s “credit-risk appetite.”

Away from banking, Ingram is in serious pay-it-forward mode: He is the youngest member of the Pfeiffer Athletic Advisory Council and has taken a great interest in enhancing the student-athlete experience at Pfeiffer.

“Pfeiffer was an important part of my life as I was growing up, and the school gave me a lot, especially through my mom and dad,” said Ingram.

Nancy MacDade Ingram (Class of 1980), was a Pfeiffer field hockey coach for 11 years, and Jack Ingram (Class of 1974) served as a former deputy athletic director at Pfeiffer, coached softball and women’s basketball, and taught sport management at the university for several decades.

Charles Ingram earned three bachelor’s degrees at Pfeiffer: economics, business administration (now called business management and leadership), and sport management.
Outside of the classroom, he was open to new experiences and broadened his horizons by, for example, using one of his required “cultural credits” to take in a sitar performance by a protégé of the late virtuoso Ravi Shankar.

Ingram was intrigued by the presentation. He says he would likely never have attended it if Pfeiffer hadn’t nudged him to do so. On the field, he pitched relief for the Falcons’ baseball team.

He says his years as a student-athlete were an important part of his college experience. He enjoyed the camaraderie of his teammates when he played baseball as a Falcon, and he remembers the pride he felt during his junior year, when his team came very close to winning the conference tournament.

Still, Ingram and members of other sports teams at Pfeiffer “have sometimes missed out on some things that we would have liked to have had,” he said. “We are now asking what we can do make things better for the next generation of student-athletes.”

“Charles was the embodiment of the term ‘student-athlete,’ and he is now the perfect example of a young, engaged Pfeiffer alumnus who is more than another voice in the stands, more than a sentimental former player who comes back to re-live the good ol’ days,” said Dr. Scott Bullard, president of Pfeiffer University. “Discussing the complexity of campus and strategic planning with him makes me wish that I had been here to watch him outsmart batters when he competed here. He is a reminder that a Pfeiffer degree mixed with a great deal of discipline and precision is an exceptional recipe for a successful career. Charles is, in fact, an impressive example to our students of a Pfeiffer alumnus who is an indispensable part of the decision-making team at one of the finest banks in the southeast. It is my great privilege to honor Charles as the 2023 recipient of the Presidential Merit Award.”