GBA Member Profile

Matt Rushton
AB&T, Albany, GA
Vice Chair, 2022-2023 GBA Agriculture Committee
Published April 27, 2023

Q: What led you to a career in banking?
A: As I approached graduation at the University of Georgia, I realized that I needed to get a plan together for my next steps and where I wanted to go in my career. I had a couple of really close friends in the banking business in southwest Georgia, and through conversations with them about my career direction and what I want to do with my life, one of them recommended that I consider banking. He set me up with an interview and I was able to secure a job for myself in Albany, GA. I started as a credit analyst at the former SunTrust Bank (now Truist). I came home to Albany and was here for about three months getting my feet wet before I entered into SunTrust’s commercial management trainee program in Atlanta. I found that a career in banking was the best decision for me in that it fit my personality very well. I enjoy working with people and problem-solving.

Q: What was the most useful piece of advice you received from a mentor (or in the early/formative years of your career)?
A: When I started out, I had the privilege of banking three well-respected gentlemen in our community named Clinton Miles, Sr., Murray Webb and Lamar Reese. At the time, I was a 24-year-old kid and didn’t know what I was doing or how to be “successful.” On some afternoons when I could get out of the office, I would go and spend time with those guys, just listening mostly. They would meet for breakfasts and lunches, and eventually I became part of their lunch crew. I learned a lot visiting with them but one piece of advice that was reiterated to me on numerous occasions was, “Sometimes the hardest thing to tell someone is ‘no,’ but it may be the best answer that they could ever hear.” As a young banker, at that point “no” was not in my vocabulary; I wanted to say ‘yes’ to any and all requests, trying to do the most business I possibly could. However, that advice stuck with me, and over the years, there were several instances where I found that ‘no’ was the best answer I could give, whether it was loan or deposit related. I’ve had numerous ‘no’ conversations with people who have turned out to be some of my best professional and non-professional relationships.

Q: Tell us about one experience you’ve had that exemplifies being a banker or your role at the bank.
A: One memory really sticks out to me for this question. Within a very short time of my having inked my entry-level job at SunTrust, the bank liquidated a clothing store. It was a foreclosure situation where the bank ended up in possession of the real estate and the inventory of the store. Over a two- or three-week time period, several of us from the bank would take shifts opening the store to the public and selling the inventory, including everything from clothing to outdoor gear. That experience helped me forge relationships with my colleagues and also gave me some real-world perspective as to how the bank worked. The whole experience gave me a view into the kind of unusual tasks a banker might have to undertake in their career.

Q: What would someone be surprised to learn about you?
A: I have three kids that are extremely athletic, and that’s oftentimes surprising to people because I’m a typical southwest Georgia guy who loves hunting, fishing and outdoor activities, but my kids are very well-respected for their athleticism. They certainly did not get that from their old dad; they got that from their mother.

Q: First tap/click of the day?
A: Overdrafts (old habits die hard)

Q: Book that you love/has made an impact?
A: My favorite book is “The Old Man and the Boy” by Robert Ruark. It’s about a grandfather and his grandson and their outdoor experiences in the North Carolina wilderness. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed and gone back to on numerous occasions. Sir Thomas Carlyle is not a bad Victorian author, either.

Q: TV show or series you love?
A: I watch very little TV with the exception of Braves games and the Weather Channel, but who doesn’t love “Yellowstone”? I lived in Whitefish, Montana, for a short stint while I was in college, and my wife and I honeymooned in Montana. We absolutely love it out there.