Alive & Unedited: Robbie Banks

  • Will Shilling photo
From the 06/17/2009 edition

Attracting and retaining young professionals has been a hot topic among Columbus leaders for several years, and the city's ability to nail down a strong workforce will shape its future in coming years. One person devoted to that project is Robbie Banks, an ambassador for the Columbus Chamber.

I was born and raised in Columbus. My whole life. I grew up on the South Side, and then in high school we moved to Olde Towne East. I currently reside on the South Side, the Children's Hospital area.

My job at the chamber is to wake up every day thinking of how to make Columbus a stickier city for young talent. Our focus, since I've been here, has been on retention in all aspects. You know the old saying, "It's much easier to keep a customer happy than it is to attract a new one."

The key to success for anyone is building relationships.

I feel like this position was my calling. I feel like I'm a great advocate and spokesperson for Columbus and why it's so great. I'm truly homegrown. I've actually left Columbus, but not to live. I have left for vacations. [Laughs]

The coolest place I've traveled is Japan. My sister was in the Marines for 21 years, and I had the opportunity to go visit her. That was my graduation gift when I finished undergrad. That was an amazing experience. It was gorgeous. It was cherry-blossom season. There's so much rich culture.

My favorite thing about Columbus would have to be the people, just the diverse group of individuals that I meet all the time, whether they're from here or they're transplants. That's what makes our community great - we're inviting and accepting of all people.

If I were to pick a specific place in town, I feel the most at home or most alive in German Village or Short North. I feel like I never get bored. And I definitely love our parks.

Someone I admire is my mother. She's very even-keeled, always calm. She has been the rock in our family. She's just been an example of someone who's very hard-working and always giving back. Without even thinking, she would give someone the last dime in her pocket.

I have three sisters and two brothers. I'm lucky. Being the youngest one, I learned from all their mistakes. I was an aunt, I think, at age six. It was more like having a little brother.

One thing I'm good at is helping people feel and look good. [I like] this whole idea of image consulting, helping people piece a wardrobe together. I've done it for fun, and then a friend of mine said recently, "You need to do this. This should be your gig."

Three things I can't live without are concealer, fruit and music.

The best advice I've ever received is, more or less, someone telling me that I need to not worry about what other people think. You can't please everyone, and I'm such a people-pleaser. Lately, I've really had to learn not to have to go so far out of my way to make everyone happy, because I know that's impossible.

Know someone doing cool things around Columbus? E-mail John Ross at