GBA Member Profile

Rachel Thompson
Vice President, Chief Financial Officer
Bank of Newington, Newington, GA
Vice Chair, 2021-2022 GBA Agriculture Committee

Q: What was your first job, and was there a lesson you learned there that you still use today?
A: My first paying job was to scout cotton when I was 14 for my dad and uncles. Twice a week I would walk through about 1,000 acres of cotton fields, checking for insect and disease damage on the plants, then submit written reports to let them know what problems were in the crop. It was hot, humid, dirty, and I think I must have walked at least two hundred miles that summer. I hated it so much! I begged my dad to let me quit after 2 weeks, but he told me I was “under contract and had to finish the job”. I still don’t remember signing a contract, and I quickly learned not only the importance of a strong work ethic, but also following through on the commitments you make. It was a tough lesson for a 14 year old, but has been invaluable to me since.

Q: What is the most useful piece of advice you received from a mentor?
A: Early in my career, a credit officer told me “change is inevitable and you have to embrace it to survive”. This was in 2008, in the middle of the financial crisis; this was excellent advice not just for turbulent times but for learning to be adaptable at any point in your career.

Q: Tell us about one experience you’ve had that exemplifies being a banker, such as a service story that really helped a customer or a quirky story.
A: Several years ago, I took the UGA crop comparison cost spreadsheet and made adjustments specific for my farm customers, based on questions they consistently asked at the beginning of each year. The adjustments let me show farmers their yield breakdowns and how those yields related to their total cost per acre of each crop. I remember sitting with two brothers and explaining that based on what I calculated, one could grow cotton cheaper, and the other could grow corn cheaper. Both of them told me that after years of farming, they had never seen a comparison between crops that could help them make better business decisions. Years later, they still wait until we review their comparison sheets before they make final decisions about what they plant. The whole experience showed me how much value a banker can add and help any business succeed. These two brothers have become some of my best customers and referral sources, and it has been so rewarding watching both of their farms grow.

Q: Top Three…

  • First tap/click of the day? I’m ashamed to say the first thing I open in the morning is that day’s Wordle. I have a very competitive family, and we all share our scores first thing in the morning to compare who did the best that day.
  • Book that you love/has made an impact? "Greenlights" by Matthew McConaughey. His stories and perspectives on family, work, ambition, and giving back to his community were fascinating.
  • TV show or series you love? Frasier is still one of my favorite shows. I honestly could not tell you how many times I have watched it from start to finish.

Q: What would someone be surprised to learn about you?
A: Probably a lot of things! I still live and help out on my family farm - we grow cotton, peanuts and corn, and we raise over 200 cows. I also own a peacock. I’ve won a waffle making contest (twice). I have played in a handbell group at my church for almost 10 years. I love Braves baseball; my husband and I rarely miss watching a game.