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On the Job with LaKisha Bryant

Photo by Barry Levine

Photo by Barry Levine

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

A. I would make sure that my resume is in the proper format and that I have the appropriate number of references or letters of recommendation. I would also make sure I've researched the companies I'm applying with very well so that I have knowledge of every aspect of their products and/or services.

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

A. The first thing I did was pay my tithes; it's what I was taught to do. After that I hit the mall. Chuck Taylor Converse had come back in style and they were in all these crazy colors and styles. I bought a bright royal blue pair. Ironically, they're back in style again.

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

A. I always thank my staff for the work they do with the girls we serve. There is no way that Girls Inc. could have the success that we have with our programming if we didn't have the program staff to make it happen every day. I also try to acknowledge their accomplishments, submit their names for organizational awards and have local awards/incentives to recognize their hard work.

Q. What was your first job?

A. My first job was playing the piano for my church junior choir.

Q. What led you to your current position? Why did you want to operate your own business?

A. I'm an alum of Girls Inc. of Albany so I was contributing and volunteering once I came back to Albany after graduate school. After I heard about the former director leaving, I prayed about the opportunity and thought what better way to impact the lives of girls in our community than to lead the organization that helped to mold me.

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

A. My professional role model in much of my career life has been my mother, Dorothy C. Bryant. She always exemplified the best characteristics for me to follow as a woman and a professional. Even in my jobs during high school I remember her pointers about customer service, smiling and being courteous, interpersonal communication skills and treating people as I would want to be treated. She made sure that I understood that in any service industry you could always be the person on the other side of the desk in need, so always treat people with dignity, respect and operate with integrity.

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

A. I've learned to pray more and keep my trust in God and His kingdom. I've also learned that if you have a great organization and the standards of excellence are maintained, then your personal investors and community friends will continue to financially support you down to their last dime.

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 would get rid of the automated phone system. I am big on communication and customer service, and I think this is one gadget that has crippled us and our ability to have simple conversations.

Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?

A. Probably my computer or my Smartphone! I stayed away from Smartphones for so long, but now I don't think I could go without it!

Q. What was the last book you read? Do you have things you read daily or regularly?

A. "Getting to Happy" by Terry McMillan and "32 Candles" by Earnessa T. Carter. I love to read, and my home is filled with books. I regularly read The Bible, local news sites online and entertainment blogs. I have to keep up with what my girl members are exposed to.

Q. I'm up and going by? And what is your morning routine?

A. I'm normally up by 6 a.m., 6:30 at the latest. I start my morning with prayer, and then I either watch the morning news or listen to music. Then it's time to play with the dogs, pack the snack bag and then head to the office. When I arrive at the office, I normally eat my breakfast and post my daily motivational quote on Facebook. Then I start the music on the iPod and the daily grind begins.

Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?

A. Reading, watching movies, cooking and spending time with family and friends.

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

A. Every decision I have made has led me to the current position that I have, so I wouldn't go back and change anything at this time!

Q. Best thing about your job?

A. My girls. Their smiles, hugs and the joy of knowing we're cultivating the citizens of tomorrow gives me the energy each day to keep it moving.

Q. Worst thing about your job?

A. The stress of dealing with finances and being concerned about whether contributions will come in the door and fundraisers will meet goal.

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

A. All of my graduate Communications courses were awesome, but probably the Persuasive Communication and Communication Theory courses.

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

A. My dream job would be to be a publicist working in the entertainment or sports industry. The key part of that dream would be helping clients develop their interpersonal communications skills and media skills. It's horrendous at times when I see people with improper communication skills during interviews.

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

A. Traveling and shopping.

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

A. Interpersonal communication skills. It's the key component that bleeds into everything you do internal and external to your organization.

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

A. Hopefully very soon. I think we're progressing toward the end in perhaps another few years.

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

A. I have a very eclectic playlist. Gospel, contemporary Christian, R&B, hip hop, pop, rock, country and jazz. What I play each day depends on the time of day and the mood I'm in.

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

A. I think Albany has to work very hard on the poverty in our community, cultivating our work force, saving our children and quality-of-life offerings. When businesses are looking for new locations for expansion and/or adding more jobs, they look at all of these factors. If we don't put things in place to improve our community, we could sadly look up 10, 20 years from now and be in bad shape.

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

A. The family trip to the Bahamas. My mother's sisters (my aunts) and many of their daughters (my cousins) took a cruise. It was about 18 of us, and we had so much fun.

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

A. The demographics of the girls we serve in our centers. Parents are realizing that Girls Inc. has programs that all girls need, regardless of socio-economic status and ethnicity. All girls are "at-risk" because of the pressures they face and the images they are bombarded with, so all girls can benefit from our research- based programs.