The McKinney file Featured

7:36am EDT May 24, 2005
Born: Aug. 14, 1956, Indianapolis

Education: Bachelor's degree, Butler University

First job: Stocked electronic equipment at Graham Electronics during high school.

Career moves: Joined First Indiana, 1984; served as CEO of The Somerset Group, 1992-2000; named vice chairman of First Indiana Corp., 1994, and CEO, 2000; named chairman, 2005

Boards: Board of directors, First Indiana Bank Corp., Indianapolis Children's Museum

What was your greatest challenge in business and how did you overcome it?

Without a doubt, the biggest challenge facing anyone in business is recruiting and retaining top talent. There is no substitute for talented, well-trained, dedicated individuals. And when you have the right people in the right positions, most other business challenges take care of themselves.

Whom do you admire most in business and why?

Tom Binford (former chief steward of the Indianapolis Speedway) and Jack Welch. Tom Binford was a decisive business leader with great judgment and a dedicated community activist. He understood that being in business means being active in community life because healthy businesses depend on healthy communities.

He was also a great mentor for many aspiring businesspeople during his 40-year career in Indianapolis.

Jack Welch appreciates the importance of well-defined company values, he has remarkable vision and he grasps the most important determinants of successful execution. He understands the significance of candor and authenticity from leaders and knows that every employee deserves a voice and dignity.

But perhaps the businessperson I admire most is my father, Bob McKinney, who is fond of saying, 'Good businesspeople do well by doing good.' He realizes that business does not exist to make a profit -- business has to make a profit to exist.

He brings great optimism and integrity to his leadership, and he embraces change, which I believe is an important attribute for a great leader. He is never satisfied with the present as he can always envision a more promising future.

What is the greatest lesson you've learned in business?

The value of integrity. The old adage that you're only as good as your word is true. I have had the privilege to be exposed to people of great integrity throughout my life and have learned from them that when leaders have integrity, others around them grow to trust them, and that there is nothing of greater value than trust.