A Man of the People

Sean Kouplen, head of Regent Bank and the Secretary of Commerce and Workforce Development, helps Oklahoma shine.

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Among several other –perhaps more recognizable – titles, Tulsa’s Sean Kouplen is an author. His third book, The Abundance Mentality, highlights the importance of pouring into the lives of others. And that’s exactly the spirit with which Kouplen approaches his other roles: with a focus on helping make life better for those around him. 

For the last two years, Kouplen has served as Oklahoma’s tenth Secretary of Commerce and Workforce Development, a position well-suited for those looking to positively impact fellow Oklahomans.

“Your entire focus, frankly, is around jobs,” says Kouplen. “Every minute of every day, I’m thinking about either trying to bring in companies that will provide jobs for Oklahomans, or get Oklahomans trained up to where they can have the skills to get a better job, or how to help our existing businesses expand and grow so that they’re hiring more people. So at the end of the day, the whole job is about helping people create a better way of life for them[selves] and their families.”

This secretary position is within the governor’s cabinet and has responsibility over 36 state agencies. When Gov. Kevin Stitt asked him to take on the challenge, Kouplen had a few questions. Mainly, his concern revolved around the fact that he is also the chairman and CEO of Regent Bank, a position he’s held since 2008.

“I said, ‘Governor, I’m not real sure how I’m going to do that; I have to run the bank,’” says Kouplen. He took, and still takes, his responsibility to care for shareholders, clients and employees of the bank very seriously. So, Kouplen employed a method he has used as leader of the bank: focusing on what he does best. Kouplen serves as the Secretary of Commerce and Workforce Development in a volunteer capacity, while an executive director for the Department of Commerce handles day-to-day matters.

This arrangement allows Kouplen to build into the people at the state agencies within his care. He says he’s been very impressed with the caliber of leadership within these organizations.

“I try to be very responsive to them – coach them up from a leadership perspective,” he says.

And, because of his affinity for people, this farm boy from Beggs – and an alumnus of Oklahoma State University – loves to sell his state. He says he has spent a lot of time speaking with CEOs all over the world, giving them the true story about living and working in Oklahoma.

“I love to go out and just watch someone’s opinion of Oklahoma change in one conversation,” he says. 

This ability to focus on what he does best, and allow others to focus on their own strengths, has served Kouplen well. It gives him time for his other important duties: that of husband, father of three and active member of his church. He also leads a daily call-in devotional that reaches thousands of people across the country.

All of these responsibilities keep Kouplen’s days full of variety, but ultimately, his focus is on people, specifically the people in his beloved home state.

“I’ve been all over the country, all over the world, and we have the best people in the world,” he says. “I truly would not live anywhere else. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than right here in Oklahoma.”