GBA Member Profile

Kristy Harrell
Chief Operations Officer / Senior Vice President
First National Bank, Bainbridge, GA
Member, GBA Operations and Technology Committee
Published Feb. 7, 2024

Q: What led you to a career in banking?
A: I began working part-time as a teller right out of high school and continued working at the bank when I started college. I worked for a small community bank and was fortunate enough to be cross trained in multiple areas of the bank. The opportunity to be exposed to so many different aspects of the banking world eventually led me to change my major and pursue a finance degree. I will be celebrating 30 years in banking this summer.

Q: What was the most useful piece of advice you received in the early/formative years of your career?
A: Early on in my career, my mentor told me to always remember to do the right thing for the person in front of me, even when those choices/answers/decisions are not easy – for me to say or for the customer to hear. As simple as those words sound, it holds true time and time again. I’ve shared that same piece of advice multiple times over the years with young bankers. I’m always interested to hear how it resonates with the person I’m mentoring now.

Q: Tell us more about one experience you’ve had that exemplifies being a banker or your role at the bank.
A: One weekend, I received a call from a customer. He was frantic! He and his wife were scheduled to leave for a mission trip early Monday morning, but he had forgotten to get their passports out of his safe deposit box. He wanted to know if I could meet them at our bank to open the vault on Sunday. After explaining it wasn’t quite that simple, I told him to give me an hour; I thought I had an idea. I went into our office, checked the closing log on the safe deposit box vault and determined that we should be able to open the vault at approximately 6:15 on Monday morning. The assistant manager and I were able to meet the couple in the office in plenty of time for them to be on the way to the airport to make their flight. It was a good feeling to help someone who felt helpless!

Q: When you’re not on the job at the bank, what do you like to do?
A: When not at the bank, I enjoy spending time with my husband, our two girls and our dog, Max. We enjoy family trips and time outdoors, especially pool time and cooking out. Work and life in general are busy, but spending time with family doing things together makes it all worth it.

Q: Book that you love/has made an impact?
A: The Anatomy of Peace – Resolving the Heart of Conflict, The Arbinger Institute. No matter the situation we approach with others, we must remember where the other person is coming from - what experiences have shaped that person, what experiences have shaped us, and how can we find common ground.

Q: Most used app?
A: Amazon!

Q: TV show or series you love?
A: Top Chef or anything food related. I enjoy cooking and especially baking. It can be a great stress reliever!