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On the Job with Bobby McKinney

Bobby McKinney is the interim president of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce.

Bobby McKinney is the interim president of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce.

“On the Job ...” this week features retired Albany businessman Bobby McKinney, who has come out of retirement to serve as interim CEO of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce. He shared his answers with Danny Carter.

Q. What was your first job?

A. As a little boy I sold Christmas and greeting cards door to door. My first real job was at the Colonial Store on Oglethorpe bagging groceries and carrying them to the cars.

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

A. My first paycheck was spent on clothes, and way too many thereafter. Hence, my second job with Larry Martin and Mr. Davis at Davis Red Hanger Shop.

Q. What led you to your career choice?

A. After the military I went to law school back in Athens, while my wife finished undergraduate school. I left school after one year and was intending to go to work for, what was then the C & S Bank, when Ross Gatlin called from Home Federal and offered me a job back in Albany. Laura and I loved Albany and both sets of parents lived here so we came home. I stayed with the bank until 1993 when we sold out to First Union and I had to make a choice of leaving Albany or leaving the bank. We chose Albany and I opened my own real estate appraisal practice.

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

A. Whatever I am it is because of great teachers and mentors. My parents raised me to know right from wrong, I did not always get it right, but I knew when it was wrong. My Aunt Grace taught me about the business world, my father-in-law, W. H. Malphurs, was my moral guide, but certainly my mother-in-law, Marilyn Malphurs McKinney, taught me more about ethical business behavior and the value of hard work more than anyone I have ever known.

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

A. That’s easy. Short term debt is your enemy, live personally and professionally within your means and remember that it is the family in the house not the square footage of the house that brings happiness.

Q. If you could turn the clock back on one aspect of technology — examples e-mail, automated phone systems, cell phones, PDA’s, etc. … what would you most like to see go away?

A. I love them all; I just don’t know how to use them. However, I would rather talk to a person than a machine.

Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?

A. My Bose radio plays non-stop when I am in my office.

Q. What is your favorite tradition?

A. My favorite traditions center around family and holidays, but Ken Durham, Tony Hoots, Jim Leek and I have hunted with Russell Davis in February for many years and his generosity in making Tallawahee available to us is a wonderful gift, not only to us but to the Boy Scouts.

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

A. I am currently reading “Washington, A Life,” by Ron Chernow. I enjoy mostly American history or historical fiction, these dominate my reading time, but a couple of nights are usually used for preparation for a Sunday School Class I teach at the Westover Church, where I worship. The Albany Herald is read daily and I subscribe to several business publications. I like to read late in the evenings until about midnight.

Q. I’m up and going by, so what is your morning routine?

A. I have been fortunate not to require a lot of sleep. I like to be at the office before 7 a.m. and I almost never eat breakfast unless I have a business or social meeting. However, with that said, I plan on learning to sleep a little later now that I have retired.

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

A. If I could go back in time I would love to sit with and listen to the “Founding Fathers” as they declared independence and created a new nation. Since that is not possible I am just glad to know Mike Gebhart.

Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?

A. Laura and I get to live on almost 50 acres and it may be my favorite place on earth. There is always work to do, grass to cut, bushes to trim or a garden and fruit trees to tend. We love to travel and have made many trips to Alaska. A good shotgun, a good friend, a good dog and a cold, clear blue sky probably make my favorite day.

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

A. None.

Q. Best thing about your job?

A. The people in the banking, financial and mortgage business were some of the finest I have ever known and were a pleasure to work with. For me it is all about about people.

Q. Worst thing about your job?

A. I know it sounds difficult to believe, but in my almost 40 years of adult work life I cannot remember ever waking up and not wanting to go to work.

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

A. I was born with a fairly severe speech impediment and took speech classes until my junior year in college. Without those classes my life could have been very different.

Q. What would be your dream job if you have picked a position outside your career path?

A. Possibly state or national politics.

Q. Once you complete your duties with the Chamber, do you have any retirement plans?

A. I’m not a bucket list kind of a person, but there are some places I still want to see. Laura and I will probably take an extended trip around USA/Canada and probably some more European trips. I will try to find a much more focused church or ministry work, but I don’t know what that looks like. Whatever my retirement bears a resemblance to, it will involve people and activity, and who knows, maybe even another job.

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

A. There isn’t one, there are many, but maybe they can be summed up in the old fashioned word “virtue.” While I have failed many times, it is always my goal, and I am grateful for the men and women in my life who have modeled that trust.

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

A. That depends on what full swing means. We already have great areas of growth and activity. P & G, Miller-Coors, MCLB, M & M Mars, Equinox, Thrush, Phoebe Putney, Albany Technical College, ASU, Darton College, SASCO, agriculture, and other small businesses that are doing well, but some areas still have a long way to go. We need to continue to work hard to attract new business and the EDC does a good job of that, but we may also need to look at other things, like becoming a destination retirement community which would be beneficial to our medical community, housing and retail sectors.

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

A. Classical with a little ’60’s & ’70’s rock.

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

A. I would love to see Southwest Georgia come together as a region, not only as it relates to transportation, but also jobs creation. What is good for any of us is good for all of us.

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

A. There have been many, but Laura and I spent almost three weeks in Norway last February and it was delightful. Not only as a renewal time as a couple, but sailing in the fiords is breathtaking.