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On the Job with John McDuffie

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

"On the Job with ..." is a weekly Sunday Inc. series spotlighting area business owners and executives. Today's interview is with John McDuffie, partner in charge, Mauldin & Jenkins.

Q. If you were a young adult fresh out of college, what would you do first in searching for a job?

A. First, I would start my search early in my last year of school in an effort to have something lined up prior to graduation. Don't wait for graduation to begin the search. Get a resume put together early and use all the resources available through the placement office at school, plus any other contacts that you or your family may have.

Q. What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first ever paycheck?

A. Part of my first paycheck from Mauldin & Jenkins went to help pay for an engagement ring for Anita.

Q. What's the single most effective technique you found over the past two years for keeping employees motivated?

A. Letting them know that I, and the firm, care about their development as professionals and are doing everything we can to provide them with rewarding and challenging career opportunities. Communicate that they are appreciated for the efforts that they make in serving our clients.

Q. What was your first job?

A. My brother and I had a lawn service business during the summer when we were in high school. We loaded our push mowers in the back of my dad's station wagon and had several yards that we cut. In college I was a clerk at a sporting goods store.

Q. Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?

A. I have been fortunate to have several role models and mentors. My first was my father, who taught me the importance of character and integrity. Charlie Jenkins taught me a lot about the values that are important in developing and sustaining a business over a long period of time. I have also learned a lot of valuable lessons from the clients that I have worked with.

Q. What is the biggest lesson you as a business leader learned from the recent recession?

A. This is not something new, but just reinforces what I have known for a long time. Be careful that you don't let greed cause you to make poor financial decisions. You should manage your business and personal financial affairs in a prudent and conservative manner. If you can not afford a purchase or investment then don't make it. I have seen too many people overextend themselves just because they did not have the patience to make the correct financial decision. There is a difference between a need and a want.

Q. If you could turn the clock back on one aspect of technology - examples e-mail, automated phone systems, cell phones, PDAs, etc. - what would you most like to see go away?

A. Automated phone systems for professional and service businesses. I like the personal touch of a friendly voice answering the phone.

Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?

A. Probably my Blackberry, but a close second is my laptop and multiple monitors.

Q. Every day I read?

A. My Bible or a daily devotion and also The Albany Herald.

Q. I'm up and going by?

A. Between 5 and 5:30. I exercise most mornings for about 30 minutes, get ready for work, have breakfast and try to have a daily devotion before getting to the office around 7.

Q. Favorite hobby or activity outside work?

A. Spending time at our lake house at Lake Blackshear and just being with family. Also actively involved at First Baptist Church of Albany and enjoy being involved in various church activities. I look forward to worship and Sunday School each week.

Q. If you could take back one business decision you made in your career, what would it be?

A. I can't remember a specific decision, but I do remember that there have been times, more than I care to admit, when I wished I had thought more fully regarding a comment before I spoke.

Q. Best thing about your job.

A. The privilege of working at Mauldin & Jenkins. I work with great people and have great clients that I really enjoy working for. I have some clients that I have worked with for almost 30 years. It is rewarding to help them as they work through issues related to their businesses and families from a long term generational basis.

Q. Worst thing about your job?

A. This is harder to answer as I enjoy most aspects of my job. I guess that it would be the seasonality of our business and its effect on our people.

Q. The most beneficial course I took in school was?

A. Principle of Accounting because it established the basic foundation and provided the basic skills that are built on in my practice.

Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?

A. My current position is my dream job, but I guess it would be working in a church environment in a ministry support or administrative role.

Q. Finish this thought; "on the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself...

A. With a job doing something on a part time basis or some type of volunteer position. I look forward to more flexibility in my schedule to enjoy time with Anita and family, but believe that I will also want something else to do to occupy part of my time. I want to continue to contribute to my church and our community in some way.

Q. What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?

A. Unquestioned Integrity

Q. Crystal ball time: What's your call on when the economic recovery for our area will be in full swing?

A. I sense that we are starting to see some signs of recovery now. I think we have another 18 to 24 months to go before we can look back and really see that things have significantly improved. That may sound like a long time but as long as we can make gradual progress, it will happen and the time will pass quickly.

Q. What kind of music might I find on your list of most played on your iPod?

A. Praise and worship, 50's -70's rock and roll and jazz by Maynard Ferguson

Q. What do you think is the biggest change Albany will see in the next 10 years?

A. Albany will be more known as a region of the state as opposed to just a city as we continue to grow outside of our borders. We are seeing a transition and growth in regional cooperation and I think that will produce a significant change for our area over the next 10 years.

Q. What was the best vacation you've ever taken?

A. One that stands out is a trip where Anita and I took the kids to Tennessee for a week. We split our time between Chattanooga and Pigeon Forge and did a lot of tourist type of activities geared towards the kids. It was fun just being together and doing a variety of activities.

Q. What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific line of business over the past few years?

A. Impact of technology and its effect on the performance of our work. Having access to information stored electronically rather than paper files. Changes in the regulatory environment that have changed our audit practice.

Q. Your company obviously has been successful. Why do you think that is the case when many businesses do not survive?

A. Our firm has a long history and culture of focusing on quality service to our clients. It is how our current partners were taught to practice and it is what we teach our employees. Our firm also has a well structured system of providing for orderly transition of ownership between generations. Charlie Jenkins was instrumental in establishing this and I observed it working prior to becoming a partner and have learned to appreciate what it means to the long term success of the firm since making partner.