2006 Most Influential Georgians Hall of Fame

Lasting Influence

In professional sports, an athlete earns induction into his or her sport’s Hall of Fame only after having been retired for several years. It doesn’t work quite that way for Georgia Trend’s Most Influential Georgians Hall of Fame, which is reserved for those individuals whose credentials rate permanent status on any list of prominent Georgians.

While our 2006 inductees – James Blanchard, Zell Miller and Betty Siegel – all have made career transitions, the word “retirement” doesn’t quite fit. All three remain active participants in their fields, contributing their time, considerable talent and, yes, influence.

Siegel puts it best: “I don’t believe in retiring.”

James H. Blanchard

Board Chairman

Synovus Financial Corp.


Age: 64

Blanchard is a guru of servant-leadership who always insisted that people, his employees and customers, are what mattered most. His emphasis on making Synovus an employer of choice has put the company on Fortune magazine’s list of “The 100 Best Companies to Work For” year after year. So this magazine now puts Blanchard in its Hall of Fame for appearing on the list every year since its inception in 1998.

When Blanchard became CEO of Columbus Bank and Trust in 1970, it had 200 employees and net income of $1.8 billion. The first multibank holding company in Georgia, CB&T Bancshares changed its name to Synovus and today has $26 billion in assets, a net income of more than $500 million and 12,000 employees.

Blanchard, who stepped down as CEO in July, will retire as a Synovus executive employee in October. But he will continue to influence the financial universe. In September Blanchard became chairman-elect of The Financial Services Roundtable, an organization representing 100 of the largest financial services companies, whose members account for more than $40 trillion in assets, $960 billion in revenue and 2.3 million jobs.

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