125th Anniversary speaker
EE alumnus Guynn featured
By Lynn Nystrom
Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 22 - February 26, 1998
Jack Guynn's engineering background made him a pioneer in the banking field when he started his financial career in 1964. Today, he represents the American dream.
As the teenage son of two teachers, young Guynn discovered quickly about saving his pennies. To earn his spending money, he cleaned septic tanks and loaded coal. This muddy image of a teenage boy is the exact opposite of Guynn's Wall Street appearance today as president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
Guynn, a Virginia Tech industrial engineering (IE) alumnus, is returning to his alma mater April 1 as a featured speaker in the university's 125th Anniversary Lecture Series. His talk, "Perspective on the Economy and the Role of the Fed" will be at 4 p.m. in Hancock auditorium. It is open to the public and free of charge.
Guynn took office Jan. 1, 1996. His bank serves the Sixth Federal Reserve District and has branches in Birmingham, Jacksonville, Miami, Nashville, and New Orleans. The district covers the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and parts of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee.
Born in Staunton. Guynn learned early in life about a hard day's work. During his teenage summers, he worked for the Augusta County Schools' Maintenance Department, loading coal and pumping out septic tanks. During his younger days, he earned his spending money as a paper boy.
Guynn is quoted as saying, "The fact that I am the son of two teachers is such an important piece of my life. I had to help with my college expenses. We all had to pitch in and work. You don't lose sight of that in your life."
Upon graduation from high school, Guynn studied IE at Virginia Tech. While he was a student at the university, he was a member of several honorary societies, including Alpha Pi Mu and Tau Beta Pi. He earned his bachelor's degree in 1964; subsequently, he received his master's degree in industrial management at Georgia Tech in 1969 and completed the Harvard Business School's Program for Management Development in 1974.
Guynn was one of the first engineers to use his background in the pursuit of a banking career. He joined the Atlanta Federal Reserve immediately after his graduation from Virginia Tech. He recalled that he wanted to "take a shot" at engineering a bank. His early work included the installation of computer programs to process checks.
His career soared. In 1984, he was named first vice-president and chief operating officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, with responsibility over the operations of the Atlanta headquarters and its five branch offices. He also served as chairman of the bank's management committee. In 1995 Guynn served as chairman of the Federal Reserve System's Financial Services Management Committee, which had responsibility for developing and implementing an integrated business plan for reserve bank financial services as well as coordinating system-level activities that support the plan.
In his current position, Guynn is responsible for all of the bank's activities, including monetary policy, supervision and regulation, and operations. In addition, he serves on the systems' chief monetary-policy body, the Federal Open Market Committee. This committee meets several times a year to adjust the interest rates the Fed charges member banks for money. Those rate changes often get passed down to consumers through mortgage and consumer loan rates.
He also serves on the Department of the Treasury's Joint Task Force on the Impact of Electronic Money on Consumers and the Federal Reserve System's Task Force on Infrastructure.
"One of my missions in life is to help people understand us and how we work to balance the economy," Guynn said.
In community affairs, Guynn has been active in various activities. At Virginia Tech, he serves on the Industrial and Systems Engineering Advisory Board, as well as the College's Committee of 100. He also serves on the Board of Trustees for Furman University and Oglethorpe University, as well as on the Advisory Board for Georgia Tech and Georgia State University. In addition, he serves on the Board of Councilors of the Carter Center and the Board of Directors of Atlanta's Midtown Alliance and the World Trade Club.
In 1976, Guynn was named New Orleans' Young Man of the Year.