G. Mary Ellis, is a member of Mount Zion Baptist Church, her non-profit organization was established to provide empowerment educational skills to young people.
Q. If you were a young adult fresh out of college, what would you do first in searching for a job?
A. I would first determine what opportunities are out there in my field of study and most importantly complete an assessment to match my career with my personality traits.
Q. What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first paycheck?
A. I wanted my own car so I believe I put some of it in the bank to save for that.
Q. What's the single most effective technique you found during the past two years for keeping employees motivated?
A. Helping them to understand how our market has changed and why we have to change with it. But most importantly, helping them to understand their role in achieving the overall objectives of the company.
Q. What was your first job?
A. I was 16 years old and my first job was a sales clerk/cashier at TG&Y department store in San Antonio, Texas.
Q. What led you to your current position?
A. My husband was an officer in the Marine Corps and we moved to Jacksonville, N.C. The area of finance appealed to me in that I was able to utilize my people skills as well as my accounting skills. I began my career in Finance in 1984 with Avco Financial Services as a Financial Services Representative in Consumer Loans. In six months, I obtained a position doing the same thing at CIT Financial Services which later became Manufacture's Hanover and then American General Finance. My husband was transferred to the Marine Corps Logistics Base and I was able to gain a transfer to the office here in Albany. I later became the branch manager and left as a district manager over eight offices from Macon to Moultrie. After nine years with American General, I moved to Bank of America as a commercial loan officer. In 1996, I left the bank and started my own company to provide financial services to the Albany community. In 2006, my operation expanded to Atlanta and Florida.
Q. Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?
A. I am inspired by great national and world leaders and scholars of our times such as Nelson Mandela, W.E. Dubois, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and numerous others in every area of our culture. People who have changed and shaped our world. To me, these individuals and countless others demonstrated the true power of the human spirit and what we all can accomplish when we put our mind to it.
Q. What is the biggest lesson you as a business leader learned from the recent recession?
A. I learned that in spite of all of the adverse experiences of the past four years, I was in a better position than I thought I was. I learned that piling up as many skills as I have throughout my life saved me during this recession. It's a blessing.
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. Technology is a great thing. We tend to substitute the online chatting for person to person. That's the only thing I would change is for us to ease up a bit on all of the online chatting and blogging and tweeting. It has it's place, but it can be too much.
Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?
A. I love my iPhone. It's been very helpful to me. The computer and fax machine are both wonderful. I remember when we had to type all of the loan documents manually and the fax machine was non-existent. Those were some challenging times compared to now.
Q. What was the last book you read?
A. Other than the Bible, which is a daily must for me, I am reading several books by Thomas Moore. His books "Care of the Soul" and "Life at Work" are both enlightening. I regularly read My Yoga Journal, books by Deepak Chopra, and on wellness and financial related literature.
Q. I'm up and going by? And what is your morning routine?
A. Daily meditations and prayer first thing in the morning. After that, I do yoga on some mornings. Some mornings, I may run. I'm not very good with routine. I simply do what I feel like doing prior to getting ready for work.
Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?
A. Yoga and running are my choices of exercise. Tennis, dancing and traveling are also high on the list. My hobby will have to be empowering people with skills that we all need to stay well, sharp, healthy, physically and spiritually.
Q. If you could take back one business decision you made in your career, what would it be?
A. If I had a crystal ball and knew that we would experience a financial meltdown, I would've deferred on opening the office in Atlanta. I had a feeling that things were going to get rough, I had no idea it would be as bad as it got.
Q. Best thing about your job?
A. Helping people achieve their dream of owning a home. It's a joyful experience to watch people once it's all over.
Q. Worst thing about your job?
A. It's very challenging in that you are constantly on a timeline which gets very stressful. We are also dealing with people's personal information and their home. We are all very sensitive about our money and where we live.
Q. The most beneficial course I took in school was?
A. All of my business courses including accounting and financial courses. The courses in small business management to include compensation administration, business law and so forth were all beneficial. By far, the most beneficial were my military leadership courses in ROTC as well as my six weeks of training in California.
Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?
A. Writing books and being a motivational speaker. I would also like to educate people on wellness and the healing power of yoga.
Q. Finish this thought; "On the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself.
A. Writing my first book or performing any of my dream jobs.
Q. What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?
Q. What kind of music might I find on your list of most played on your iPod?
A. I don't have an iPod. But I play CDs. Anything jazz, gospel and Christian music and R&B. I like a variety. I'm listening to Jennifer Hudson and Toni Braxton's new CD.
Q. What do you think is the biggest change Albany will see in the next 10 years?
A. This is really hard to say. I've been in Albany for 24 years and we really haven't had any real major changes that I can see. When I came here, we had the Firestone plant closing and the effects of it. Since then, things have been somewhat consistent. It is my hope and prayer that Albany will continue to attract new companies and citizens to our our community. We live in a great city situated in a great location with access to major cities like Tallahassee, Atlanta, Savannah, Hilton Head and Orlando. All of these cities are within driving distance. I would like to see more upscale restaurants in Albany. Other than that, it's a great place to call home.
Q. What was the best vacation you've ever taken? Why?
A. My trip to Jamaica for one of my friend's 60th birthday party. It was perfectly planned and it was spent on a beautiful villa in Montego Bay. We didn't have to cook, clean, drive. The view was spectacular, the weather was perfect and the food was amazing. We were actually able to get some R&R.
Q. What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific line of business over the past few years?
A. That's easy. Since 2006, we've had nothing but changes and we are still experiencing changes. The laws regulating our industry has had drastic changes. We have gone from 8,000 licenses in Georgia down to approximately 1,400. Credit guidelines have tightened. We have fewer loan products available.