GBA Member Profile

Leighton (Lee) Lister
SVP, Middle Georgia Market Executive
Great Oaks Bank, Eastman, GA
Member, GBA Agriculture Committee
Published May 30, 2024

Q: What led you to a career in banking?
A: I took a rather unconventional path to banking. I attended UGA and earned a bachelor’s degree in food science. I loved the subject matter, and still do, but as I began to explore internships and career opportunities, I felt it wasn’t the right direction for me. I continued my education with a master’s degree in agribusiness, which led me to my first banking job at AgGeorgia Farm Credit. I was able to blend my passion for food, agriculture, and finance into a great career. From there, the transition to community banking was a no-brainer. Helping families, businesses, and our communities achieve financial success is the best part of my job.

Q: What was the most useful piece of advice you received in the early/formative years of your career?
A: There were two pieces of advice that really stuck with me. The first was the old cliché, “How do you eat an elephant?”. The answer, of course, is one bite at a time. The second was an analogy to juggling. In our lives, we may often find ourselves juggling multiple balls at once. We are bound to drop one from time to time. The key to success is finding out which balls are rubber and which ones are glass. The rubber balls will bounce. You can pick them up and continue on. The glass ones will shatter, often with no chance of repair. Proper time management, balance, and relationship building can help us identify which balls are which. With the right skills and practice, we can help avoid “dropping the ball” altogether.

Q: Tell us about one experience you’ve had that exemplifies being a banker or your role at the bank, such as a service story that really helped a customer or a quirky story.
A: At Great Oaks Bank, we host an annual First Responders Lunch. We provide a hearty meal to police officers, firefighters, and other first responders. The first event I attended was during my first month on the job. We set up at a local fire station and everything was going smoothly. Pork chops were grilling, drinks were iced down, the works! Suddenly, a fire alarm sounded. Immediately, the first responders grabbed their gear and went to assess the situation. We could even see the smoke from the scene at the firehouse. The whole process took a few hours, but we stayed to ensure they were all fed. The firefighters returned to a hot meal, which was greatly appreciated. To me, this was the epitome of a commitment to our community. It’s not always about dollar signs. It’s about supporting our community and those that keep us safe.

Q: What would someone be surprised to learn about you?
A: You would never be able to tell from my physique, but I really enjoy running! It really helps me relax and unwind at the end of a long day. The Peachtree Road Race is one of my favorite annual traditions and I’ve even tried my hand in a few half marathons.

Q: First tap/click of the day?
A: More often than not, the snooze button. But after that it’s generally a news app.

Q: Book that you love/has made an impact?
A: My father is a writer and has published a few books. I always enjoy reading them, but watching him go through the process, researching, drafting, editing, etc., has shown me the true meaning of hard work and determination. That has certainly had an impact on my life.

Q: TV show or series you love?
A: My favorite TV show is The West Wing. They really don’t make shows like that anymore.