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June 12, 2024

By Rebecca Mohr, Capital University Communications Manager

Pathways to Success: Mentorship in the World of Accounting

“You don’t know what you don’t know, and you can’t be what you can’t see,” said Erika Latham ’97, encapsulating the essence of her remarkable journey through higher education to a successful banking career. When Latham chose Capital, she liked the supportive community environment, an important factor for her as she was already a mom.

“Capital has a special place in my heart. It really feels like where I was able to grow and develop. Even despite having different circumstances, I felt like I was always supported,” said Latham. “I feel like everyone at Capital truly looked out for me and really poured into me.”

Starting with an interest in math, she quickly realized in trigonometry that her true calling lay elsewhere. It was in Capital’s Blackmore Library that Latham discovered accounting as a potential career path. A pivotal class with Steve Mellum, M.B.A., associate professor, Business, who became a significant mentor, confirmed her interest in accounting and set her up for both classroom and real-world success.

“One big word I’ll use with Professor Mellum is exposure. So many students need exposure. You don’t know what you don’t know, and you can’t be what you can’t see. He was just always such an encouraging spirit,” said Latham.

Having to balance family, full-time work, and education, Latham transitioned from the traditional undergraduate path to the adult degree program, which offered evening classes that fit her demanding schedule. With the guidance of her academic advisor, she strategically returned to the traditional program for her senior year, ultimately securing an internship with Greene & Wallace.

“I was impressed with Erika's determination to complete her degree.  She was able to successfully balance her academic responsibilities with her life outside of Capital University.  I enjoyed meeting with her in my office to discuss her coursework and career options after she graduated,” said Mellum. “Conversations like the ones I had with Erika were some of my favorite moments during my 30+ years at Capital.”

Latham started at Capital in 1991, she took some time off in 1993, got married, and had another baby in 1994. When she graduated in 1997, she had a big support system that included her parents, daughters, and husband.

“One of the positive things about being a young mother was for my children to see me work for and earn my diploma. I think they knew how much it meant to me,” said Latham. “One birthday while I was still at school, my mom gave me a Capital sweatshirt. It was purple, of course! But then she got my daughter a matching one. She would wear that with pride.”

Since joining Huntington National Bank, Latham has worked her way up from senior auditor to senior vice president of Human Resources Segment Risk Officer.

“I’m responsible for the risk administration in our HR department. We have several teams that support the employee life cycle,” said Latham. “As an auditor I think you get into the detailed oriented lens and then you learn about the risk mindset. In this role, I get to use everything I’ve learned with a team that’s committed to looking out for our colleagues. It’s really the best of both worlds.”

Latham’s story is not just one of professional success but also one of giving back. She holds a deep appreciation for the mentorship she received from people like Mellum, and she is committed to paying it forward.

“Part of Huntington’s mission is to look out for people. I’ve been so blessed to be affiliated with organizations that are aligned with my values and aligned with how I feel. I’m passionate about people and I just want everyone to be the best version of themselves,” said Latham.

With two daughters in college and another three having graduated, Latham’s focus on mentoring has become a significant aspect of her life. She finds joy in helping others grow and succeed, embodying the spirit of mentorship that has been a cornerstone of her own journey.

“We have a mentoring program at Huntington, but I also do it informally. I love mentoring. I like pouring into people and just really helping people navigate their lives and careers,” said Latham. “I feel like there were a lot of people throughout my journey who have helped me get to where I am now, especially at Capital.”

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