Ian Rehmert ‘95, ‘97, ‘00
Class of '95, '97, '00
President and Chief Executive Officer at Republic Finance
As the president and chief executive officer of Republic Finance, I am responsible for ensuring we deliver excellent service to our customers, provide rewarding career opportunities for our team members, generate returns for our shareholders, and make sure we do business the right way, mainly as we execute our growth and expansion strategy. We currently serve over 350,000 customers in 15 states with a 70-year history of meeting the financial needs of “main street America.” I have over 20 years of experience in consumer lending and have held senior roles in credit risk management, strategy, lending operations, account management operations, marketing, and technology. During the great financial crisis, I played a critical role in helping both HSBC North America and Capital One navigate unprecedented circumstances by creating innovative loss mitigation strategies and leading large-scale operations that kept tens of thousands of customers in their homes. My work helped stabilize loan performance on well over $200 billion of mortgages and reduced bank losses by over $2 billion.
Before finding a home in the finance industry, I worked as an analyst for a defense think tank, an internet start-up during the dot-com boom, a cruise line, and a defense agency working in the weapon of mass destruction space after 9/11. Common threads across my career have been problem-solving and decision-making in the face of uncertainty and process improvement.
During my time as a triple Hokie, my studies focused on operations research within the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE). As an undergraduate, I spent my time outside the classroom playing for the intercollegiate men's lacrosse team.
In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my wife, Katie, and our two children, Chloe and Jonathan. I love traveling, skiing, attending concerts, collecting wine, and watching science fiction movies. I am a proud Hokie and a 20-year Virginia Tech football season ticket holder.
How did the college equip you for the ‘real world’?
As I initially entered the workforce, I wasn't sure how much I would be able to contribute. But then I realized how much my experience in the College of Engineering taught me about learning how to learn, working with teams, and taking a rigorous approach to problem-solving. The value of leveraging that engineering mindset to problem-solving and process re-engineering was not always clear or common when I entered the finance industry in 2003. To this day, it cuts across all facets of marketing, underwriting, credit risk management, portfolio management, and optimizing financial operations.
Why is giving back to Virginia Tech important to you?
Giving back to Virginia Tech in all three ways (time, talent, and treasure) is important to me because outside of my family, Virginia Tech is one of the few places where the people, like Associate Professor Emeritus Joel Nachlas, took a genuine interest in my personal growth. Additionally, the ISE department and College of Engineering provided support through teaching assistantships and fellowships that were invaluable in my growth and the quality of my graduate school experience. All of these qualities make giving back an easy decision because it’s benefiting a place filled with genuine people that meant so much to me and my future. I hope that in some way, giving back enables more Hokies to have a positive experience and do the same!
What is a guiding principle for your work?
In my more junior roles, it was about fully understanding the business problem at hand, who all the key stakeholders are, and what forces are in tension so that you don't miss something in your recommended solution.
Now that I’m in more senior roles, it is always about hiring great people, giving them the latitude to own their space and grow with appropriate guidance, and continually listening and staying open to feedback. It’s essential to make sure team members can tell you bad news just as much as the good news.
My fondest memory from my time in the college is...
There are too many to choose from, including:
- Finishing my Ph.D. in operations research. I ended up writing the complex boundary equations required to solve my dissertation with a marker on a cardboard box so I would not forget it before I got back to campus from a long weekend.
- Winning my last lacrosse game against Radford University with my brother playing goalie and my dad watching from the sidelines.
- Watching our football team go from a 5-6 season in 1991, to Michael Vick's first game and pass in Lane Stadium, then our undefeated regular season in 1999.
Being a Virginia Tech alumnus means...
Always looking for ways to stay connected and give back to a university where I made lifelong friends and where the faculty and staff took a genuine interest in me as a person, supporting my growth academically and professionally. I am honored to have served on the Industrial and Systems Engineering Advisory Board, sponsored award-winning senior design projects, hired Hokies, and sponsored internships.
What was a project that you worked on while at Virginia Tech?
I was working under Associate Professor Emeritus Joel Nachlas in graduate school developing a new way to calculate the probability that a system might be functioning at some time in the future under certain conditions. I also had the opportunity to teach a junior-level probability course and serve as a teaching assistant for Paul Torgersen, the president of Virginia Tech at the time.
What advice would you share with your college self?
Enjoy the ride and spend more time engaging with the department as an undergraduate. You picked the perfect major to enable a very versatile career. Don’t think twice — jump at the chance to earn a graduate degree in engineering if it’s something you’re considering. The delay in entering the workforce is nothing compared to the doors and opportunities that are likely to open.
B.S., Industrial and Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1995
M.S., Industrial and Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1997
Ph.D., Industrial and Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech, 2000