How to Break Into Big Business

North Texas has one of the largest concentrations of corporate headquarters in the country. Regions Bank’s Tyrus Sanders explains how more blacks can make it into their boardrooms.

Dallas deal-makers know that diversity is key to success. you can find the city’s companies on Black Enterprise magazine’s list of Best Companies for Diversity and among the most diverse of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For. 

One man who knows what it takes for an African-American to climb the corporate ladder in this city is Tyrus Sanders. A native of Corsicana and graduate of Sam Houston State University, he left Texas to attend CBA Banking School at the University of Virginia and begin his career with Bank of America and U.S. Bank. He returned to the Dallas area in 2004 to become president of Cedar Hill division for Regions Bank. He rose to president of the southern Dallas division in 2006 and eventually to business banking executive for all of Texas, the position he has held since 2008. 

Doing business in this city, Sanders says, is different than doing it anywhere else. “In Dallas, there’s a confidence, and it’s not quiet. It’s pretty loud,” he says. “Dallas has a swagger, and it feels good to be a part of that.”

But blowing hot air won’t propel you to the top. A good education, connections, and hard work are essential. “When you step into Dallas, whatever you do, be ready to do it at 100 percent,” Sanders says. 

The city boasts businesspeople from all walks of life, but, as in other cities, blacks are often viewed under a microscope. “You stand out, and that magnifies what you do, good or bad,” Sanders says. “I’ve ascended to other positions because I’ve done well at them, but if I had screwed up, I would have fallen as fast as I’ve risen.”

To rise through the ranks, he suggests finding a sponsor at a higher level who recognizes your talents and can act as a coach. Be willing to listen and, above all, be patient.

Corporate careers aren’t made in a day or even a year. He also emphasizes the importance of service. Sanders himself chairs the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau and has been involved with other civic groups, including the Dallas Urban League and Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce. 

“It’s about selling Dallas,” he says. “If they’re not successful, Dallas won’t be successful.” 

Regional Interests

19 Fortune 500 companies are based in North Texas

ExxonMobil    
Rank: 2 
City:
 Irving
Revenue (millions): 354,674.0

AT&T
Rank: 12 
City:
 Dallas
Revenue (millions): 124,629.0

AMR
Rank: 118
City: Fort Worth
Revenue (millions): 22,170.0

Fluor
Rank: 124
City: Irving
Revenue (millions): 20,849.3

Kimberly-Clark
Rank: 130
City: Irving
Revenue (millions): 19,746.0

J.C. Penney
Rank: 146
City: Plano
Revenue (millions): 17,759.0

Texas Instruments
Rank: 175
City: Dallas
Revenue (millions): 13,966.0

Dean Foods
Rank: 203
City: Dallas
Revenue (millions): 12,149.2

Southwest Airlines
Rank: 205
City: Dallas
Revenue (millions): 12,104.0

GameStop
Rank: 262
City: Grapevine
Revenue (millions): 9,473.7

Tenet Healthcare
Rank: 266
City: Dallas
Revenue (millions): 9,233.0

Holly
Rank: 289
City: Dallas
Revenue (millions): 8,322.9

Energy Future Holdings
Rank: 292
City: Dallas
Revenue (millions): 8,235.0

Energy Transfer Equity
Rank: 351
City: Dallas
Revenue (millions): 6,598.1

Commercial Metals
Rank: 361
City: Irving
Revenue (millions): 6,429.1

Celanese
Rank: 388
City: Dallas
Revenue (millions): 5,918.0

Dr Pepper Snapple Group
Rank: 404
City: Plano
Revenue (millions): 5,636.0

Atmos Energy
Rank: 473
City: Dallas
Revenue (millions): 4,789.7

RadioShack
Rank: 492
City: Fort Worth
Revenue (millions): 4,472.7

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