Assistant Vice President / Branch Manager
Athens First Bank & Trust, a division of Synovus, Monroe
Leadership GBA President
How long have you been in banking, and will you share a little insight with us about how you became a career banker?
I have been in banking for 10 years. I remember while in college working on a degree in finance, expressing to friends and family that I would like to do anything except work in a bank. As it turns out, that is exactly what I started doing shortly after receiving my degree, and I haven't looked back since. I am thankful that I have had an extraordinary group of mentors in banking, both inside my bank and in the community where I work.
What was your very first job and what are some leadership lessons you learned early on that you still use today?
I had a job in college that I would recommend to all young people; waiting tables. Being a waiter made for an interesting dynamic that most people don't think about. Not only was I the guest's liaison with the kitchen, but also the kitchen's liaison with the guest. This meant that I had to keep everybody happy or at least find ways to not make them mad. In banking, we fight similar battles and many times, I've learned, how you say something is more important than what you say.
What is the biggest challenge for your bank these days?
Keeping up with our competition. Everybody is looking for the same things in my market, and in all but a rare instance we're all talking to the same customers, haggling over the same terms.
One of the leadership challenges we keep hearing about is how to attract good talent to the industry. What would you say to convince a young person to consider a career in banking?
Our industry has really taken it on the chin from the media over the last 7-8 years and increased regulation has made it more and more difficult for a banker to help an individual or company that is really in need. However, we can't let these things write our future. We must remain active in our communities and be responsible for ensuring that our young people see bankers who make a difference through the lives that they live and the relationships in which they invest. I knew the local bank presidents in high school in my hometown and trusted and respected them for the character they displayed and the time they invested in their community. We need to remind ourselves and our young people that we work in an industry that is still very noble. Our industry still makes it possible for us to impact the communities that we live and work in, all while providing a generous means to those who are willing to put in the hard work.
When you're not on the job at the bank or fulfilling your Leadership GBA duties, what do you like to do?
I have a very active family that I really enjoy spending time with. My son and daughter really enjoy playing soccer, so spending time at the youth soccer facilities in Monroe takes up a good portion of our afternoons and evenings. On weekends my family can be found spending time with each other, whether it be kayaking down one of Georgia's rivers or curled up reading a book.