Kevin Woelflein, WG’58

Kevin Woelflein, WG'58At Wharton became an Industrial Management major following two years in the Army Chemical Corps as an ROTC lieutenant. Most of that time was spent in Eastern France. While a full time student at Wharton I worked part time at Atlantic Refining, which at that time was headquartered in Philadelphia. But the job was very exciting as I became the junior member of an Operations Research team charged with the task of creating a computer simulation of the largest of Atlantic’s refineries. Ultimately I spent 10 years working in the oil and chemical industries evaluating investment decisions and long range planning.

That background resulted in an offer to join The First National Bank of Chicago as a commercial lending officer responsible for banking chemical companies nationwide. After five years FNBC sent me to Japan as the founding General Manager of the Tokyo Branch which I ran for three years.

Then FNBC transferred me to New York where I became the founding President of UBAF Arab American Bank, a consortium of sixteen Arab Banks and four of the largest ten American Banks. The purpose of the Bank was complementary to U.S. foreign policy which emphasized recycling petrodollars. It was fortuitous that the founding Chairman of the Bank was the Minister of Finance of Iraq who was American educated and a bankers banker. That unique experience of about seven years qualified me for the life I have led in recent years.

Following the invasion of Iraq in 2003, I became part of the Coalition Provisional Authority and for a year was given the responsibility to advise the fledging Iraq Private Banks who struggled for survival competing with the state owned financial institutions. After leaving the U.S. Government in 2004, I spent a short interval developing business opportunities in Iraq until I learned of the Brinkley Task Force in the Department of Defense. In early 2007, I was hired as a sub-contractor and employed in continuing the modernization of the Iraq Private Banking system.

The DoD team, of which I am still part, focused on introducing electronic banking infrastructure in Iraq. Such that in September 2008, the first electronic switch company was launched in Iraq and thereby connected the first of the Iraq banks to the world’s financial structure. The switch has made it possible for Master Cards to be issued and will soon be followed by VISA and AMEX.

Looking ahead, there are many challenges to develop the Iraq banking structure to world class levels. But it is this very challenge that motivates me to continue with this work which gives me a high degree of satisfaction.