Continuous learner willing to stretch his comfort zone

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Print this page by Joan Tupponce
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Photo by Mark Rhodes


George P. Kite III
Call Federal Credit Union

George Kite III was eyeing Wall Street after he graduated from Radford University until he and his father visited Call Federal Credit Union and serendipitously met its CEO, Roger Ball. “I didn’t know anything about credit unions at all, and he talked to me for about two hours,” Kite says.

Now 34, Kite serves as the credit union’s chief financial officer. Call Federal officials say he has helped the organization expand its services to meet its members’ needs. “Many of George’s strengths come from the fact that he is the epitome of a continuous learner — academically, from a business standpoint, and personally stretching his comfort zone,” says Call Federal board member Bill Poorbaugh.

Founded by tobacco giant Philip Morris USA in 1962, Call Federal now has $350 million in assets and 30,000 members. (The credit union’s name is derived from Philip Morris’ famous advertising slogan, “Call for Philip Morris.”)

Kite takes pride in keeping the credit union well-capitalized. Call Federal ended 2014 with a net worth ratio of 11.99 percent, nearly twice the regulatory requirement of 6 percent. It also saw extremely strong loan growth of 20 percent.

Kite embraces every opportunity the credit union presents to him. He stepped outside his financial duties to head Call Federal’s marketing from 2010 to 2014. “It was an interesting experience. I was using a different side of my brain,” he says. “The biggest thing I did was to bring in some top talent as well as a marketing manager.”

Jerry Dunnavant, vice president of strategic marketing for Access, a marketing and communications firm, worked with Kite on rebranding the credit union. “George has a keen understanding of the other components of business,” he says. “His financial acumen is strong, but his emotional intelligence is strong as well.”

Dunnavant was impressed with Kite’s attention to detail, especially during the early stages of the rebranding project. “He wanted to make sure the branding aspect is who they really are and not just a tagline. It’s really about living the brand for him,” Dunnavant says. “‘Passionately local banking’ describes the credit union and who they are, but I think it’s a reflection of who he is, too.”

Kite’s new responsibilities are human resources and training. “That’s a big challenge, but it’s rewarding,” he says. “I am able to see the bigger picture in terms of how our decisions affect the whole company. Instead of making a decision based on the balance sheet or numbers, I know these people now and their desire to develop with the organization. Knowing them and knowing what their concerns are makes me more attuned and aware as a manager. That impacts my decision making.”

Over the years, Kite has been able to grow in areas where he thought of himself as weak. “I have come out of my comfort zone of being a traditional, analytically oriented person to one who is more creative and can see the bigger picture,” he says.

His biggest reward is being able to put good people in positions where they can shine. His leadership philosophy is fundamental. “Hire really good people, craft a vision of what lies ahead, develop a strategy to get there, remove barriers and provide resources for them,” he says. “Uplift them and motivate them, and then get the hell out of their way.”

As a way to relax, he spends every other weekend with his father helping him run a small beef cattle farm in Nottoway County. “I like to get outside. That is how I recharge,” he says.

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