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Leadership Institute Columbus State University The Forum

Jim Blanchard

Jim Blanchard

Former Chairman and CEO, Synovus Financial Corp.

Jim Blanchard served as Chairman and CEO of Synovus Financial Corp., a more than $32 billion, multi-financial services company that provides a diverse set of products and services that touch people around the world. His tenure has spanned the periods of greatest growth and prosperity in the company’s history, which dates back to 1888. Jim retired as Chairman of Synovus in October 2006.

Jim earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from The University of Georgia in 1963, and earned his law degree from The University of Georgia in 1965. He served two years as 1st Lieutenant and Finance Officer in the U.S. Army, and then returned to Columbus to join a law firm. In June 1970, at the age of 28, he was selected as the top executive at Columbus Bank and Trust Company, a position previously held by his father, James W. Blanchard.

Jim rallied support for the passing of the Georgia Legislature’s multi-bank holding company bill in 1976, and under his leadership, CB&T Bancshares (now Synovus) became the first bank holding company in Georgia to acquire other banks under the new law. Since that time, Synovus has operated under a decentralized, autonomous management approach for community banking, which has been strongly encouraged by Jim. He also played an instrumental role in establishing Total System Services, Inc. (TSYS) in 1983, which now provides payments processing for more than 416 million cardholder accounts worldwide.

Jim has long been an outspoken advocate of servant leadership, and he has fostered a culture at Synovus that places special emphasis on balancing work with the rest of life.In 1999, Synovus was selected #1 on the list of “The 100 Best Companies to Work for” in America by FORTUNE magazine, and has been recognized in its Hall of Fame for consecutive appearances on the list since its inception in 1998. In 2005, Synovus was also named as one of “America’s Most Admired Companies.” Synovus and its family of companies have earned reputations for outstanding customer service, leading-edge technological innovation and generous returns to shareholders. The success of Synovus demonstrates companies can achieve superior financial performance and “treat folks right.”Jim places tremendous emphasis on leadership education at Synovus, which focuses on servant leadership principles.

Jim has said, “Servant leadership is a worthy goal unto itself. We run our company this way simply because it’s right, because every person who labors here has great worth and deserves to be treated so. Our company is built on these values. They define who we are.”