Jye Smith is known by his colleagues for his energy and friendliness. Perhaps this is what has led him to be a young gun in the financial services industry.
Born and bred in the Hunter, Jye turned a part time job into an early career. He became a McDonald’s Restaurant Manager at just 20 years of age.
At 24, he looked for a new challenge that also matched his values and had a customer service focus. He joined Greater Bank as a supervisor and within 18 months he was a Branch Manager. In his six years with Greater Bank, Jye has completed further training in financial services and business management with the Institute of Strategic Management and Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Jye is a director of the Greater Charitable Foundation but also volunteers with its charity partners.
- What career path led you to where you are now?
Currently I am a Branch Manager with the Greater Bank. I actually started at McDonald’s when I was 14 and 9 months and really enjoyed the customer service flair of things and just trying to do one better than the other guy. It got to a point with McDonald’s where I went from crew to Restaurant Manager at 20, and I did that role for four years.
I didn’t particularly want to go to Sydney to go any higher or any further so I started putting feelers out elsewhere, and that’s when the opportunity for Greater Bank came up. I started with Greater Bank as a Supervisor and within 18 months I was promoted to Branch Manager and also Director on the Greater Charitable Foundation.
Burgers and money are very similar. The only difference is when there is something wrong with money they don’t throw it at you like they do with burgers!
- What motivates and drives you?
Motivation and drive basically comes from my family. So I’m a Dad of a boy and a girl and I’ve got my beautiful wife Sharnie as well. I want to do the best that I possibly can for the time that I have got here to ensure they get the best in life.
From the work perspective, getting to work every day and pleasing the person in front of me nothing beats that – whether or not it’s my staff, whether or not it’s my customers or whether or not it is outside of work with friends and family I want to better wherever I possibly can for those guys.
- What has been your biggest learning curve in your career?
I suppose I have had two learning curves. One has been personal and one career driven. The first one would be going from McDonald’s after 10 years into a completely different role, completely different industry, different way of doing things. At 24 I already had a mortgage and it was one of those things like how do you go from doing exactly what you know for so long into something different. But as soon as I got there it was fantastic. It took me nearly a year to make the jump but once I got there and me applying what I had learnt at McDonald’s and growing up and using things like that just transferred into my next job. It really just goes to show if you have a crack at something you can definitely do it.
From a personal perspective, recently this year I lost my Dad. He was quite a young age, 57 actually, so young on the spectrum of things, he battled really, really hard with an illness before he passed and it showed me that every day you wake up is a good day so have a crack as you’ve got nothing to lose.
- Where would you like to be in 10 years?
I would like to be happy, healthy and still breathing and walking this gracious world that we have. I suppose in 10 years’ time I am really enjoying my role with Greater Bank as a Branch Manager and another reason that I managed to join Greater Bank and the reason behind it is that they are a Hunter-based organisation so the sky is the limit. I would like to continue working with Greater Bank and maybe push towards regional manager, perhaps even executive level. I will just do my best to shoot the lights out between now and then.
- Have you had any significant Hunter-based mentors during your career that inspire you?
Significant can be one thing and well-known to one and then I suppose significant to myself and growing up. I was very lucky early in the piece at McDonald’s to have an owner/operator who was extremely customer focused, he was extremely good with time management and he really drove me to do well. He would have to be the first one and his name is Murray McHugh and he was the owner/operator of the two Kotara stores when I was there.
The other ones would be I’ve got two or three bosses at the Greater Bank that just really, really helped me sponge up all the information going from burgers into money, into finance, into achieving people’s dreams and all that sort of thing. So they have been a great inspiration and I’ve had good exposure to four or five of those guys and taking my own little bits that I liked and tried to make them my own.
When you say business guys, again, I always refer back to my Dad who was such a hero of mine and he was really good to have grown up with him and known him and taken the positives out of all that. I’m sure the next 10, 20 years plus I’ll have many more significant others.
With thanks to Hunter Young Professionals who Hunter Headline collaborated with to source this interviewee.
The customer-owned Greater Bank is Newcastle and the Hunter's only local bank.
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