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On the Job with Don Monk

Photo by Barry Levine

Photo by Barry Levine

"On the Job with...." is a weekly Sunday Inc. series, spotlighting area business owners and executives. Today's interview is with Don Monk, regional president with Ameris Bank.

Q. What was your first job?

A. I worked for the Federal Land Bank in Pensacola in home construction/mortgage lending. It was a lot of fun.

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

A. Bedroom furniture. The job didn't pay much and Karon was in school, so we had simple objectives.

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

A. Communication. Let your employees know the plan.

Q. What led you to your current position? Why did you want to be in the banking business?

A. I thought banking would be a good respectable profession that provided interaction with people, and I have found that to be the case. I found out "bankers hours" was a myth though.

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

A. My father. He has been my role model in business and in life.

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

A. That fundamentals matter. Too many individuals and businesses strayed from basic financial principles, such as acceptable levels of savings and debt.

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 despise automated phone answering systems. During business hours I like for someone to answer the phone and say, "How may I help you." If you get ours then know I'm no longer there.

Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?

A. I would have to say my BlackBerry. It has essentially allowed my office to become mobile. If I am traveling I am connected.

Q. What is your favorite tradition?

A. Family Christmas at the farm. Great times.

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

A. I read practically every night and just finished "Mythology" by Edith Hamilton. I have become very interested in ancient Greek mythology.

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

A. Up at 5:45 a.m. Toast, coffee, shower and out the door.

Q. What famous person would you like to meet, and Why?

A. Bill Clinton. To ask him what the hell was he thinking.

Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?

A. Bicycle riding and trap shooting. I haven't had much time for trap shooting lately and miss it a lot.

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

A. There are many I would like to do over, but the marketing gaffe of the giant ears would be one.

Q. Best thing about your job?

A. People interaction. I am very much a people person and that's what banking is about.

Q. Worst thing about your job?

A. Time pressures. There are so many time demands and I have had to learn to delegate things that I really enjoyed doing.

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

A. Economics. It applies to so much that is meaningful.

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

A. Beach Bum. That may not be a job, but it's my dream.

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

A. No. Thank God my success is not dependent on algebra.

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

A. Sitting on my deck watching the sun set with Karon. That's what we do now and I don't plan to retire from it.

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

A. Integrity. Without integrity, the other traits don't matter.

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

A. Crystal balls do not have a good track record lately. Some industry segments are already showing improvement, but many are not. I think it's another 24 to 30 months before we see anything close to full swing.

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

A. You would be confused looking at my play list. It ranges from Bob Dylan to Sheryl Crow to Lady GaGa.

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

A. Higher order medical care. As Phoebe transitions into a regional health care system, the larger network will attract more and more specialties yielding more sophisticated health care right here at home. This trend had already started.

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

A. Casa Marina resort at Key West last year. A lot of fun at night...a lot of relaxation by day.

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

A. Banking is evolving into two types: Larger but less personal or smaller but less sophistication. We think there is value in between.