Financial education is the bee’s knees, but we like to give our readers an opportunity to get to know the people behind the scenes here at Member One. Paul Economy, Chief Retail Officer, has a big anniversary coming up, so we thought it appropriate to put him on the hot seat this month.
Where are you from? Give me a little of your history.
PE: I am a native of Roanoke—born, lived, grew up. Spent some time at Virginia Western. I did some leadership programs at Roanoke College as well as CUNA Mutual. I did a lot of traveling in my early years to Europe. Did some “on-the-road education”.
How long have you been at Member One?
PE: I’m not going to tell you.
You’re not going to tell me?
PE: Didn’t you read the employee newsletter? Thirty years at the end of this month.
(I did, but for the sake of this interview, I had to ask!)
My next question was going to be, “Where were you before Member One,” but it seems you’ve always been here!
PE: I spent some time in retail. You can probably tell I’m passionate; I get energy from other people, so I really am more of a people person. I spent some time in a retail store at Valley View when it first opened up and worked there before coming to Member One.
So that’s the only other job?
PE: Well, I was a paperboy. My family dominated our neighborhood with the Roanoke Times paper route for 15 years.
You’ve been here 30 years, but you’ve obviously not held this position for 30 years. What is your Member One journey?
PE: Well, like many, I started as a teller at the Main Office. In less than six months, we opened our first Southwest location, where I spent some time. Then I moved to our lending department for about three or four years, but I realized the front office was where I needed to be. I went back to Southwest as an assistant branch manager and stayed between there and the Main branch. As Mr. Carter (CEO of Member One) came on board, I had opportunities in leadership and to grow into where I’m at right now.
So how long have you been the Chief Retail Officer?
PE: Going on two years in May. I probably spent about three or four years as the Senior VP in Retail and was in more of a regional position because this position didn’t exist.
You were just too awesome that they had to make a position for you?
PE: That’s one way to put it! No, believe it or not, I am a humble person. I’m very fortunate. I think what it comes down to is if you love what you do, 30 years goes by pretty fast, and I enjoy seeing our members and our community grow because of what we do. It’s exciting watching it in Franklin County. It’s exciting watching it in the New River Valley and Lynchburg and just seeing how a co-op can make a difference in people’s lives. Because that’s really why we’re here, right?
What’s the coolest place you’ve ever visited?
PE: Coolest place? Wow… well, as much as I loved Europe and saw all that history that was in front of me, it’s probably when I went to Malawi in Africa, for three weeks. I got an opportunity to see a country that’s living on nothing, yet they’re the happiest people. There’s nothing better than hearing the sounds of joy from people just because you’ve come to visit. I would also say that no travel experience is a bad one. You’re going to get something out of it.
If a kid walked up to you and asked for a piece of advice, and you only had 30 seconds, what would you tell them?
PE: Work hard.
Who do you most admire?
PE: That is a tough one. You know, it comes back to my dad. He was a hard worker. He raised his family, and I am always amazed at what he’s accomplished in his lifetime and been very successful at it. I think he would probably be my go-to. I know it’s basic, but that’s who it would be.
If you could do one thing and succeed at it, what would it be?
PE: Probably massage therapy. I have studied and practiced massage for about 10 years.
If you could have any super power, what would you pick?
PE: To make things right? To repair wrongs? Is that a super power?
Yeah! That is a really great answer.
PE: I don’t know if that’s being the youngest of four and always trying to be the peacemaker, or what.
What are you currently watching on Netflix or reading if you don’t watch TV?
PE: I just finished The Queen. Prior to that was House of Cards. You know what my problem is with Netflix? After the first season, they’re just never as good. I’m currently reading True Vine, Beth Macy’s new book. It’s about some albino kids out of the Franklin County area that were picked up by the circus on its way through town. It’s very interesting. Mr. Carter actually has a book club here, so he brought it to us, and we’ll read it and come back and discuss it. It’s very cool.
If you could meet one person, dead or alive, who would you choose?
PE: I’ve already done that.
Who was it?
PE: Debra Harry. Or Blondie. When she came here, I met her. I’m a huge Blondie fan. I got to meet her when she came to Roanoke because my brother has friends in New York who knew her. I asked if they could make it happen, and they did. Another bucket list item checked off.
You’re lucky. You’re probably one of the few people who can say they’ve met their person.
PE: I am. It was really cool.
The nickname “Mayor of Roanoke” has been floating around. Can you explain that to me?
PE: Oh, gosh. Who told you that? Again, I’m a hometown boy. I’ve been involved in my community from paper route on up. I’ve been involved in various different community groups and arts organizations. Working here has given me exposure to so many people who are active in the community. Living downtown also helped, but you know, it’s a small town. The new people don’t know me, so that nickname will probably fade away soon.