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Q&A with M. Lauch McKinnon, President & CEO of RockBridge Commercial Bank

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Q: What is your official job title and can you give me a description, as detailed as you can, of your typical responsibilities and projects?

A: My title is President and CEO of both RockBridge Commercial Bank and RockBridge Financial Holdings, Inc. (the holding company for the bank). In this role, my primary accountabilities include:

Working with the Board of Directors of the Bank / Holding Company to develop a long-term strategy and implementing this strategy for the Bank / Holding Company so that it creates increasing, sustainable shareholder value.

Developing and recommending annual business plans and budgets that support the long-term strategy of the Bank / Holding Company to the Board of Directors.

Building and leading an effective management team and developing an active plan for its performance and succession.

Fostering a corporate culture that promotes ethical practices, encourages individual integrity, fulfills social responsibility, and is conducive to attracting, retaining, and motivating a diverse group of top-quality bankers at all levels.

Managing the day-to-day business affairs of the Bank / Holding Company appropriately with the goal of becoming the financial resource (including technology and information) for our clients. This requires having the right combination / selection of appropriately priced services that attract and retain the client groups we have targeted, and keeping informed on and employing the changes in technology that assure the best available banking services are provided for our clients.

Implement major corporate policies.

Ensuring the Bank / Holding Company maintains a satisfactory regulatory rating.

Q: How did you get interested in a career in business / finance? Can you explain your career path-what you studied in school / college (if applicable), who or what influenced you, previous experiences that may or may not have contributed?

A: My interest in banking developed during the first year in college. My undergraduate degree is in business, and I have an MBA with concentrations in finance and banking. I have always believed that banking is an honorable that contributes value to its clients, its shareholders, its bankers, and its community.

How did you find your current job?

In essence, I created it by working with the organizers in chartering a new bank.

Q: What do you most enjoy about your job?

A: Leading, developing, and challenging our bankers in the mission of creating value for our clients...and in the process creating value for our shareholders.

What are some of the most difficult challenges?

Finding the very best bankers in the marketplace and attracting that talent to our bank. Balancing work life with personal life.

Q: Can you talk about an area in which you have great interest, experience, or expertise?

A: Leadership (not paid to make the inevitable happen).

Q: What do you consider to be some of the most important issues facing the profession today?

A: Creative thinking. Because the industry is so highly regulated, bankers tend to stay way inside the box.

Q: What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments?

A: Leading the turnaround in two "regulatorily-challenged" banks ... being the organizing President and CEO for two new bank charters.

Q: If you could do it all over again, what, if anything, would you change or do differently?

A: What I am is the sum total of my experiences, and I value them all ... particularly those that became "learning experiences" (what I got when I didn't get what I wanted).

Q: Do you have someone who influenced you significantly in your life and career?

A: Christian-based ethics; I did not have a mentor (and that's probably why I recognize the value of one); also Stephen Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People).

Q: Career Outline: How did you get your first job, second job, etc., eventually leading to where you are today?

A: First job-on-campus college interview; second and third-executive search consultants; others-professional referrals (an attorney and a consultant).

Q: Can you offer any advice to business students and/or anyone who wants to pursue a career in finance? What are the basic keys to success in this field?

A: The considerations are probably basic to any career choice. First, make sure it is something you believe you will enjoy...there is probably nothing worse than having to go to work every day if you do not find pleasure in what you do. Whatever you choose, get your heart into it (be totally committed), and develop the skills and capabilities that will enable you to excel. Find a great mentor.

These are some fun ones:

Q: Are you married?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you have children?

A: Four, and eight grandchildren.

Q: What CD is in your CD player right now?

A: The Beach Boys' Sounds of Summer and the Boston Pops.

Q: What are the last books and magazine you read?

A: Several magazines...Bank Director; Motor Trend; Automobile; Georgia Trend; there are more, but these are the most recent. Also several books...Execution by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan; The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave by Leigh Branham; Good to Great by Jim Collins; Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson; Gung Ho! by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles

Q: What is your favorite TV show?

A: College football and basketball...also the History Channel.

Q: Who are your role models?

A: My Dad (now deceased) for his integrity, consideration, and willing accountability. My wife for her courage, thoughtfulness, love, and graciousness. Our children and grandchildren for their spontaneity and love of life.
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