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Jim McKenzie

An Interview With Jim McKenzie, Chattanooga, Tennessee Market President

What’s your story? Where did you grow up and have you always lived in Tennessee?
I was born and raised in Tennessee and have spent all but two years of my life here. I lived in Dallas for two years and was a banker there early in my career.

How did you get into banking?
Right out of college my dad knew the CEO of Chattanooga’s largest bank at the time. He recommended to me that I go talk to him and I got the job. It was my one and only job interview right out of college.

How is the culture different at FirstBank compared to larger banks?
It’s less institutional and more personal.

What is your favorite part about your job?
Competing for and winning new business as well as the relationships with customers and associates.

Describe a typical day at the office.
It’s fast paced, challenging and every day bring a lot of variety.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A doctor. That all changed when I worked for a group of Thoracic surgeons for two summers and came face to face with really sick people and…gasp…blood.

FirstBank operates as a community bank, with the services and resources of a large bank. What advantages does this give to your customers?
It allows us to operate with speed and flexibility to get things done quickly and with good execution. Our customers love that.

What do you like best about being a community banker?
Making a positive experience in other people’s lives.

As a Market President, what’s your vision for FirstBank in Chattanooga? 
To continue to grow and to help make FirstBank a household name.

Describe Chattanooga, Tennessee in three words.
Vibrant, dynamic and beautiful.

What is Chattanooga known for?
The Chattanooga Choo-Choo, tourism, outdoor activities and being a great place to live.

What do you like best about life there?
I know a ton of people, and I am an active participant in helping our community become an even better place to live, work and play.

What’s your favorite lunch spot there?
I ate there today, the Chattanooga Golf & Country Club.

If we got in your car and turned on some music, what are some songs that would be on your playlist, CD or favorite radio station?
You mean my I-pod? I crank it up when I’m out running. I love a wide variety of songs.

If you could give your 20-year old self one piece of advice, knowing what you know now, what would it be?
To trust your instincts.

Have you ever had a mentor who made a difference in your life? How so?
Yes, my dad. I worked for him for seven years.

What is your life motto?
Do your best and let God do the rest!

Describe your perfect vacation.
Going to the beach…either Orange Beach, Alabama or Destin, Florida.

Do you prefer indoor or outdoor sports?
Outdoor. I love being outside.


To be named as one of the 90 Best Banks To Work For in America, we work every day to ensure that associates are engaged, having fun and enjoy what they are doing. American Banker bases their rankings on extensive workplace surveys and reviews of employer benefits and policies.


For more information on American Banker, visit

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