On the Job with Carol Slappey

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 Carol Slappey, president of HeritageBank of the South.

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

A. Get involved in the community by joining civic organizations and participating in local events. Young adults are able to meet new people and build relationships with other members of the community. This networking can lead to opportunities one may not have had otherwise.

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

A. My first payment on a better car.

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

A. Involving the employees in the decision-making process. I feel like people do better with projects and goals if they have input in the process.

Q. What was your first job?

A. A teller at Home Federal Savings and Loan.

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

A. I had several at Home Federal. Nettawyl Davis took all of us young people under her wing and guided us. She taught us work ethic. She was not afraid to discipline us, but she did it with love and compassion.

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

A. Change is constant and nothing ever stays the same. The most recent recession has reminded us in the banking industry to be flexible. We must maintain our focus with the ability to adapt in an ever-changing economy.

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. I am not a big fan of automated phone systems. It is frustrating to be told your wait time is 10 minutes or longer by an automated system!

Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?

A. I do like my blackberry. It helps when I am traveling to stay on top of my work through e-mails.

Q. What was the last book you read?

A. "The Last Song," Nicholas Sparks.

Q. I'm up and going by ... ?

A. I am up by 5 a.m. and usually in the bank on an early day by 6:30, no later than 7. I like my early time to look at my priority list and any reports that I need to review before the phones start ringing.

Q. Favorite hobby or activity outside of work?

A. I go to the gym for classes four days a week. I am really partial to an aerobics-step class. I also like to work in my flower beds, and I read a lot.

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

A. Several years into my career I was lured away to work for a very large startup company. I lasted four months. The day I left I was fortunate that the bank president called and said, "I told you so. Come back to work on Monday." I was so blessed that he wanted me back.

Q. Best thing about your job?

A. The people I work with. I am very fortunate to work with a group of people that are truly like family. I could not ask for more caring and supportive people to work with.

Q. Worst thing about your job?

A. The worst part of my job is also one of the most rewarding. Many of the bank's new hires are young adults searching for their first position. We cultivate their skills, teach them customer service skills and train them to be exceptional young professionals. I am always sad when they leave the bank to pursue other careers, but it has been exciting watching them grow and helping them to achieve their goals.

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

A. Hands down accounting. In banking, you really need to know basic accounting.

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

A. I always wanted to be a nurse. They have very hard jobs but are typically very dedicated, caring individuals.

Q. Have you ever used an algebra formula or had to reference an important date from history in the course of your career?

A. Not that I can recall.

Q. Finish this: "On the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself ..."

A. Spending as much time as I can with our three precious granddaughters!

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

A. The ability to be objective and fair.

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

A. I am hopeful that it will be as short as 18 months and no longer than 24 months.

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

A. Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, Carrie Underwood, The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac and any oldies.

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

A. I would hope to see more unity within the community to move in the direction of growth and prosperity for the community. I feel that the younger generations that are entering the work force with a new-found focus on community and civic duty will help to bring about change and unity. I am confident their enthusiasm and new ideas will drive Albany forward and create prosperity in our area.

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

A. The beach trips with our family when our children were small. The aunts, uncles, cousins and our family had so much fun. The trips now with grandchildren are like having the opportunity to do it all over again.

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

A. Banks are beginning to go back to doing business like we did when I started my career in banking -- safe and sound banking practices. Community banks and locally owned businesses are for the most part the backbone of many communities.