The honorees included a trio of alumni from the University of Missouri–St. Louis.
Tom Minogue, a 1976 graduate in economics, received the top honor, the Legacy Award, in recognition of his roughly two decades of leadership as chairman of Thompson Coburn LLP.
James Lally, a 1993 MBA graduate and the president and CEO of Enterprise Financial Services Corp., and Dennis Jenkins, a 1990 graduate in psychology now serving as the chief operating officer of Caritas Family Solutions, were among the 13 other honored guests at Thursday’s banquet at the Hilton at the Ballpark in downtown St. Louis.
“It was unexpected and humbling,” Minogue said of his award. “I’ve actually gotten to give away a lot of awards at Business Journal events over the years and have been somebody who would introduce people. This was the first award I’ve gotten from the Business Journal.”
Minogue said he was honored to share the spotlight with other CEOs and other executives.
The recognition is a fitting early capstone to his time in leadership. He will cede his chairmanship next summer, shortly after celebrating his 66th birthday, in accordance with the firm’s partnership agreement.
Minogue joined what was then known as Thompson & Mitchell in 1979, not long after becoming the first UMSL graduate to receive a law degree from Harvard University. He served a prior stint as chairman starting in 1995, before the merger to become Thompson Coburn, and then began his current tenure in 2002.
While still working as a corporate attorney, Minogue has spent the bulk of his time focused on the management of leadership of the firm. He has also been very involved in charitable and civic organizations, including UMSL, where he’s a former president of the Chancellor’s Council.
“I think we have a culture in the CEO community in St. Louis, that CEOs are active in bettering the community,” Minogue said. “You see that at a great many companies in town, and when you see other CEOs doing it, that challenges yourself to play your part. That’s a very healthy thing for the St. Louis area.”
Lally was similarly humbled to count himself among that group and credited his work colleagues at Enterprise.
“I think it’s significant because it’s the first time this publication has given this award,” he said. “To be part of that inaugural group is a great honor. I think the award is appropriately named. It’s the C-Suite Award because it’s a reflection of our whole team. It hums because of the diversity of people we have.”
Lally joined the Enterprise in 2003 as a vice president and relationship manager after previously working at Commerce Bank and then Mark Twain Bank, which, after a series of mergers and acquisitions, became U.S. Bank.
He did not begin his professional career with his eyes trained on the C-Suite.
“As opportunities arise, you have to be ready,” said Lally, who served stints leading the bank’s Clayton unit, oversaw the entire St. Louis region and assumed responsibility for commercial banking at Enterprise before being named president in 2016. “It’s a little bit of a risk-reward too. You give up a little bit to get a lot. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a little less time with your family. It was never just a decision for me alone.”
Jenkins’ road to the C-Suite has been even more winding. He was a part-time student at UMSL for many years – with several stops and starts while working full time – before he completed his degree in psychology.
“I was the definition of a commuter student, and I just stayed with it,” he said.
He was going to graduate school at Webster University while working on an assembly line at General Motors, when the company offered a buyout in his final semester, prompting his career shift into human resources.
Jenkins has worked at a series of nonprofit organizations, including LIFE Skills, Epworth Children & Family Services and Community Link, before landing as a consultant at Caritas Family Solutions in 2011.
At the time, Caritas was a social services agency connected to the Diocese of Belleville, but it has since transitioned to become an independent, nondenominational agency. Jenkins became its COO in 2012.
He was grateful to learn his boss nominated him for the C-Suite Award.
“Just that he decided to do that was honor enough,” he said. “That made me feel really good, but to get it as well was an added bonus.”
Read about Minogue, Lally, Jenkins and the other honorees here.