VP of Operations & Technology
The Claxton Bank
Group 1 Rep., GBA Marketing Committee
Q: What was your first job, and was there a lesson you learned there that you still use today?
A: My first job was for Southern Voice and Data, installing low-voltage networking cable. I started in middle school and continued to work there until I went to college. It was a great experience because I learned a lot about the physical layer of networking, which has helped tremendously throughout my IT career. I also learned a lot about the value of hard work, and walking around in attics on hot summer days in south Georgia was great motivation for me to stay in school.
Q: What drew you to marketing and/or the banking industry?
A: I majored in finance at the University of Georgia and slowly realized that I didn’t want to do anything in finance. I had a good background in technology, graphic design, and marketing, so I started looking for IT jobs in the financial industry to bridge the gap between my education and passion. My role in marketing just happened organically as I was maintaining the bank’s websites, ATMs, lobby signage, etc. Since I was already managing those devices, it was only natural for me to start getting involved in the design of those screens. After creating ads for our digital channels, I slowly began creating ads for our other channels as well, until I was eventually handling all of our marketing.
Q: When you think about the future of the banking industry, what makes you hopeful and what makes you concerned?
A: Coming from more of an IT background, I’ve been keeping a close eye on all the developing fintech. Fintech is one of those weird things that is both terrifying and super exciting at the same time. It can be concerning because we’re starting to see more direct competition from players that didn’t exist a few years ago and don’t have to operate in our environment and adhere to our regulatory requirements. They can develop technology much quicker than we can and specialize in sectors in a way that we can’t. On the flip side, I think these pieces of technology and the strategic partnerships traditional financial institutions can form with fintech opens the door to a whole new world of opportunities that never existed before, which is exciting. Either way, community banking, especially here at The Claxton Bank, is all about relationships. That is what we are really selling. We have been fostering these relationships for 80 years, and it is something that fintechs and other competitors find hard to overcome.
Q: If you could thank someone for becoming the professional you are today, who would it be and why?
A: My first manager at The Claxton Bank, Carri Self, has had a significant impact on my professional career and the banking knowledge I have today. She was a great mentor, and she helped me gain my footing and confidence in this industry, sharpen my project management and compliance skills, and guide me through everything from my first exam to pandemic planning. Her wealth of banking knowledge, information security knowledge, and compliance knowledge was the perfect complement to my IT skills. She did a fantastic job teaching me everything she knows and passing that compliance prowess on to me. When I started, I hated all the documentation that came with IT in this industry, and now thanks to her, I think it is one of my strongest professional assets.
Q: What would someone be surprised to learn about you?
A: Everyone I work with is always surprised to learn that I have no formal IT training. I went to school for finance, but IT has always been a passion of mine, and I’ve been able to pick up everything I know over the years through reading stuff online and tinkering.