John Hairston joined Hancock Whitney in 1994 following a career in financial services consulting with Anderson Consulting. Serving as CEO since 2006 and President since 2014, John Hairston was also Hancock Whitney’s Chief Operating Officer (2008-2014).
Hairston is a longtime advocate for the financial services industry, having served in industry leadership roles such as a member of the American Bankers Association Board of Directors and Audit Committee, member of the Financial Education and Advocacy Committee in Washington, D.C., past co-chair of the American Bankers Association Dodd-Frank Task Force, past chair of the Mississippi Bankers Legislative Committee, and chairman of the American Bankers Council. He has also taught on the faculty of the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and currently lectures at the Georgia School of Banking in Athens.
Hairston has played major roles in numerous business, economic, civic, and charitable organizations in Mississippi, across the Gulf South, and in Washington, D.C. In 2004 and 2009, Governor Haley Barbour appointed him as Director of the Board of Mississippi Information Technology Services, which Hairston chaired in his second term. He received appointments in 2005 and 2010 to the Mississippi Gaming Commission, one of the three-member body regulating the state’s gaming industry. In 2012 Governor Phil Bryant appointed him chairman of that commission. Hairston also co-chairs the GoCoast 2020 Commission Tourism Committee.
Hairston is a past commissioner of the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission, appointed by Chief Justice Jim Smith; past commissioner of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Recovery and Revitalization Commission; and past co-chair of the Gulf Coast Business Council Premier Destination Initiative, which sponsored legislation to form the first Gulf Coast Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau. He is also immediate past chairman of the Gulf Coast Business Council Hairston currently serves on the National WWII Museum Board of Trustees in New Orleans as board vice-chair and audit committee chair. Additionally, he is a member of the New Orleans Business Council.
One of The Sun-Herald’s Top 10 Business Leaders under 40, Top 10 Community Leaders, and Mississippi Business Journal’s Top 40 under 40 Business Leaders, Hairston also received the Mississippi Business Journal’s Top CEO Award, One Coast Ambassador of the Year award, and the Pat Santucci Spirit of the Coast award. He is a past chair of the United Way of South Mississippi campaign and past chair of the American Heart Association Heart Walk.
Hairston is a graduate of Gulfport High School and a magna cum laude graduate of Mississippi State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering. He is a member and past chair of the MSU’s College of Business Executive Advisory Board.