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On the Job with Cal McMillan

Cal McMillan has built his banking career in Southwest Georgia for almost three decades. He’s now a top executive for Ameris Bank.

Cal McMillan has built his banking career in Southwest Georgia for almost three decades. He’s now a top executive for Ameris Bank.

Being raised is a small community in Alabama never kept Cal McMillan from having lofty goals.

Building on a career in finance that started almost 30 years ago, McMillan is now an executive with Ameris Bank, serving as market president both in Albany and Cordele.

A childhood fascination with finances — investing and saving — led McMillan to Troy State University for his formal financial training and then to Southwest Georgia for his “hands on” education.

And speaking of lofty goals, McMillan says his interest in outer space and science may have taken him to a career with NASA had he chosen a non-banking career path.

McMillan recently shared a question-and-answer session with Danny Carter.

Q. What was your very first job?

A. My first job was in maintenance at a health care facility in Monroeville, Ala., during my junior and senior years of high school.

THE MCMILLAN FILE

NAME: Cal McMillan

AGE: 52

POSITION: Market president for Ameris Bank locations in Albany and Cordele.

FAMILY: His wife of 29 years, Doris, is an educator in the Worth County School System. Two sons, Ryan McMillan a first year medical student at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta and Jordan McMillan a senior at Worth County High School

EDUCATION: BS degree in Finance from Troy State University, Honor Graduate GBA Banking School, Series 6 and 63 Securities License

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Treasurer and trustee with Darton State College , chairman of the board of Moultrie Technical College, board member with the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce and member at Mt. Zion Baptist Church. Alumnus of Leadership Georgia, Leadership Tifton and Leadership Peach in Fort Valley. Past chairman of the Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce.

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW: McMillan was a member of the Troy State University tennis team.

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

A. I purchased some clothes, but I was taught as a child to always save and never spend all of the money you earned. Therefore, I saved a small percentage of my first check and have maintained that practice into my adulthood and even passed it on to my children.

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

A. Being a servant leader and empowering employees to do their job without micromanaging while capitalizing on their strengths in order to foster better productivity.

Q. What led you to your current position?

I’ve always been fascinated with finance and investing. As a child, I was intrigued with business and I admired people who were successful in the business field; hence, I felt that a career in banking would be very compatible with my personality.

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

A. Yes, Joe Evans, chairman and CEO of State Bank and Trust in Macon and Atlanta. I had the opportunity to work with him approximately 20 years ago and he left a lasting impression on me. He is an awesome leader, excellent banker and savvy business man. He gives back to the community and is very charitable with his time and money. One of the main things he would say to me was, “Cal always remember, people come first. Treat them the way you want to be treated and everything else will fall in place.”

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

A. To be patient, stay focused and continue to provide excellent customer service because that will enable you to endure tough times.

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. The automated phone systems, they seem to have somewhat diminished the personal touch that is so important in building good customer relationships.

Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?

A. My iPhone. It’s small, easy to carry around and provide access to emails/information which allows me to stay in touch with customers and respond to other time sensitive decisions.

Q. What is your favorite tradition?

A. During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays my family and I always take a special trip to various destinations. During this time, we have an opportunity to have fun and spend quality time together.

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

A. “Built to Last” by Jim Collins. Daily, I read the Bible; however, I read “Georgia Trend” and various other financial and business journals on a regular basis.

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

A. I’m up and going by 4:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and up by 6:30 a.m. on weekends. Coffee and then 45 to 60 minutes in the gym at least five days a week.

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

A. Nelson Mandela, a man that spent 27 years of his life in prison for standing up against apartheid in South Africa. I would like to meet him because I admire his courage, passion and vision.

Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?

A. Reading, playing tennis, and traveling

Q. Best thing about your job?

A. The opportunity to impact the lives of people on a daily basis. Building good business relationships and helping people is very fulfilling and rewarding.

Q. Worst thing about your job?

A. Current regulatory environment in banking.

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

A. Multiple courses in accounting and finance.

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

A. My dream job would be something like working for NASA at the space center in Houston. I have always been intrigued and fascinated with space and science.

Q. Finish this thought; “on the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself…”

A. Calculating the travel miles logged during the last 12 months and working as a part-time business consultant advising and assisting small businesses concerning their finances.

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

A. Excellent people skills and vision.

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

A. Although we’ve seen small signs of prosperity, I’m of the opinion that it will take several years in order for our area to completely recover from the recent economic downturn.

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

A. Contemporary jazz, gospel and old school R&B.

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

A. I think we will continue to see slight growth in the area of industry and tourism.

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

A. In 2008, I visited South Africa for three weeks and it is one of the most gorgeous countries in the world. The countryside was absolutely beautiful. Having the opportunity to visit sites that I had either read about or seen via television was awesome. The highlight of my trip was visiting the Nelson Mandela Museum.