With the support of his wife Michelle, they both left their careers and family in Southern California and planted roots in Portland. Tory says it was a risky move, but looking back it was more than worth it. “Sitting here today, it has turned out far better than I would have ever imagined,” said Tory. He says his biggest surprise about Umpqua Bank is that it “lived up to the hype and then some.” He’s a big believer in the bank, but for him, the real differentiator is its people.
As Umpqua Bank’s first chief banking officer, Tory oversees all customer-facing bank divisions and focuses on creating seamless, human-digital customer experiences across the bank’s retail, home lending, commercial and wealth management business lines. Tory’s approach to his position starts with the understanding that you can always be getting better. “If you are resting on your laurels then you’re already slipping,” said Tory. This mindset was instilled in Tory by his father, and also ingrained in him through his own personal experiences.
Tory was born in Eugene and moved to Phoenix, Arizona at the age of eight. At the age of 15, Tory and his three siblings lost their mother after a battle with cancer. He describes it as a tortuous event to endure as a child. “The impact was felt in a lot of different ways, over a long period of time,” recalled Tory. Looking back, Tory can now see that even through tragedy, good lessons can be learned. “My brothers and sister may disagree, but I became an adult at a much younger age.”
In high school, Tory was a student athlete, playing both basketball and football. He was committed to a career in basketball following graduation, but a broken ankle during his senior year put his aspirations on pause. He wrestled with whether he should take another track in life or to keep trying to do what he loved. He decided to keep with athletics.
Tory rehabilitated in earnest. Following graduation, he went to the University of Arizona in hopes of playing basketball but did not make the team. Once again, Tory was confronted with the thought, “Now is it over?” Instead of giving up his dream, he shifted his focus, initially attending a community college to play football and earn a chance to play for a major collegiate program in the future. This, he believed, was his one last shot to fulfill his dream, and he was resolute in giving it another try. Through hard work and dedication (and a little luck, according to Tory), he ended up receiving multiple scholarship offers from universities across the country.
After several recruiting trips, Tory settled on San Diego State University (SDSU). The school had solid athletics and academics—and being by the beach didn’t hurt either. At SDSU, Tory got to start as a junior for two years playing defensive back. While excelling academically in pursuit of a finance degree, Tory was making a name for himself. He was selected as Defensive Team Captain and honored as SDSU’s top Scholar/Athlete. People began to take notice, and by the end of his collegiate career, he was one of the most highly regarded defensive backs coming out of college. In the 1995 NFL draft, Tory was selected in the second round by the Washington Redskins. After a long, unpredictable road and much hard work, Tory felt like he had finally “made it.” A long and successful NFL career awaited him.
Tory’s entry into the League ended up a rocky start. Negotiations between the Redskins and Tory’s agent resulted in him missing the first two weeks of training camp. The delay setback his performance, but he also admits he could have done more to prepare himself between the time he was drafted and the start of training camp.
Before the NFL season even began, Tory was caught off guard when he learned that he had been traded to the San Francisco 49ers. The trade was tough, and he felt like he had to start all over again. “I got a great opportunity, but didn’t recognize it,” Tory reflected on being a high NFL draft pick. “I once again learned that you can never ever stop working at getting better at what you do.”
In San Francisco, Tory enjoyed success with his new team. The 49ers made the playoffs during his first two seasons but were unable to advance to the elusive Super Bowl. That changed during Tory’s fourth season when the 49ers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals to become Super Bowl XXIII champions. “The feeling of winning the championship is difficult to put into words,” recounts Tory. “It’s a special moment that you’ll never forget. It’s etched in time. We’ll always be Super Bowl champions.”
The very next season, Tory would find his life once again turned upside down after a career-ending injury. But Tory was always planning for the end of his NFL career. “I just shifted,” said Tory. During his first offseason with the 49ers, he had completed his finance degree at SDSU. After his NFL career came to an end, he took his education to the next level and obtained an MBA from the University of Southern California. From there his career in banking took flight.
What have all of Tory’s life experiences and lessons added up to? A fundamental philosophy of working hard and doing your best. “Tiny things add up to make a huge difference: the difference between winning and losing. One must have the urgency to get things done and done right,” said Tory. He’s also learned that from a team perspective, whether business or athletics, selflessness is required. “It’s not about me, it’s about the team.”
Tory says you can learn a lot from winning; and likely more from losing. “But it’s a heck of a lot more fun to win.” He feels incredibly lucky for his four-year career with the 49ers and grateful for the opportunities that have led him back to Oregon and Umpqua Bank.