Phyllis Banks-Whitley is the public relations-media manager for the Albany Police Department.
“On the Job with ...” is a weekly feature of Sunday Inc. Today’s segment is with Phyllis Banks-Whitley, public information officer with the Albany Police Department. She shared her responses with Danny Carter.
Q. What was your first job?
A. My grandmother took me to “head shrimp” when I was 15 years old one summer while I was on summer vacation from school.
Q. What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first paycheck?
A. You got paid the same day after “heading shrimp”. I spent the first $5 from that first paycheck on a fully loaded hot dog.
Q. What’s the single most effective technique you found during the past two years for keeping employees motivated?
A. Working alongside them, really showing that teamwork is the most effective way to accomplish goals.
Q. What led you to your current position?
A. I really needed a change and I wanted another way to have more of an impact in the community.
Q. Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?
A. My daughters inspire me the most. They keep me encouraged.
Q. What is the biggest lesson you as a business leader learned from the recent recession?
A. Personally, I had to actually make a grocery list and stick to it. In the business, people who are facing hard times will do things just to make it. Unfortunately it is criminal activity they turn to and end up in trouble.
Q. If you could turn the clock back on one aspect of technology — examples email, automated phone systems, cell phones, PDAs, etc. — what would you most like to see go away?
A. Texting has really caused a divide amongst families. We text conversations and no longer sit and hold conversations.
Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?
A. It would have to be my HTC Android. It helps me stay in touch with the reporters so that they can receive information.
Q. What is your favorite tradition?
A. It would have to be Sunday dinner. The collard greens, corn bread, baked chicken, macaroni and cheese, and of course fresh-brewed sweet tea.
Q. What was the last book you read? Do you have things you read daily or regularly?
A. Sadly, I tend to read books about relationships so the last book I read was Steve Harvey’s “Act like a Lady: Think like a Man.” I try to read a scripture daily along with emails and news stories online or in the paper.
Q. I’m up and going by? And what is your morning routine?
A. I am up and going by 7:30 a.m. I go to Albany High to take my daughter to school, then to the office. I have to have a cup of coffee before I begin work. Then it’s emails, emails, emails.
Q. What famous person would you like to meet, and why?
A. I would like to meet Michelle Obama. She has truly changed the face of the black woman in America. I would like to know how she balances it all; being a wife, being a mother, and being the first lady. Most importantly, I would love to check out her closet.
Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?
A. My favorite hobby is relaxation. When I have down time, I enjoy curling up with a blanket and watching a good movie with my daughters.
Q. If you could take back one business decision you made in your career, what would it be?
A. It would be not having enough knowledge to negotiate a good salary. We often devalue our gifts. I know I have.
Q. Best thing about your job?
A. I would say interacting with the community. It is always rewarding to host a Citizen’s Police Academy or the Basic Firearms Course because you see the perception people have about the agency and the police evolve into a more positive one.
Q. Worst thing about your job?
A. Not having enough time in the day to complete the many projects I place on my list of things to do. I really push myself daily to make sure the goals of the agency on that day are completed.
Q. The most beneficial course I took in school was?
A. Public speaking. The instructor helped me build my confidence in speaking before crowds.
Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?
A. I would want to be an entertainment reporter.
Q. Finish this thought: “On the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself …”
A. I see myself in Hawaii lying on a hammock looking out at the beautiful sand and water.
Q. What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?
A. Patience is a good attribute to have because people will test you. You could enjoy what you do but without patience, people will absorb that enjoyment out of you.
Q. Crystal ball time: What’s your call on when the economic recovery for our area will be in full swing?
A. I think it’s around the corner. We just have to get a few puzzle pieces in place. We just need a couple of large businesses to really invest in our city
Q. What kind of music might I find on your list of most played on your iPod?
A. The music selection would range from Josh Turner, Adele, to Lil’ Wayne, Nicki Minaj to inspirational gospel music.
Q. What do you think is the biggest change Albany will see in the next 10 years?
A. I see more people getting involved in determining the direction they want to see the city go in areas such as crime and economic development.
Q. What was the best vacation you’ve ever taken? Why?
A. I always enjoy going home to Bayou La Batre, Ala., for vacation during the holidays. My dad always prepares a lot of good home-cooked food filled with love, soul and shrimp.
Q. What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific line of business over the past few years?
A. More citizens want to partner with the agency to have an active role in lowering crime in the city. I have also seen citizen perception of the police department increasingly improve.