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Roger Blythe was Chick-fil-A's 14th employee. He is now vice president of financial planning and development.
Roger Blythe was Chick-fil-A's 14th employee. He is now vice president of financial planning and development.

Alumni Profile: Roger Blythe Dedicates Career to Chick-fil-A

When people meet Roger Blythe for the first time and learn that he works for Chick-fil-A, "the first question most of them ask is, 'Which one do you work at?'" chuckles the 1978 management science graduate of Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business.

The answer is that he spends his weekdays at the company's Atlanta headquarters, where he is vice president of financial planning and development.

The Hampton, Ga., native oversees the planning, budgeting and reporting processes for Chick-fil-A, and heads a group charged with project management for its financial services operations. In addition, he supervises professional development for the 230-member financial services staff.

That's a plateful, but "I have a lot of great people who work with me and provide leadership as well, so they make the job more manageable," says Blythe, who has spent his entire career in the fast-food company's financial services areas, including restaurant accounting and business analysis.

Blythe attributes his interest in Georgia Tech to his father, Roger Blythe Sr., an avid Yellow Jackets fan who attended Tech briefly before finishing his education at Southern Tech.

"I grew up loving Georgia Tech," Blythe recalls. "I was pretty decent at math and science during my senior year in high school, and I decided I wanted to pursue a career in the financial world and also become a CPA. When I realized I could go to Tech and still do both, that sealed the deal for me."

One of the biggest surprises college life held for Blythe was the abrupt shift from the scripted routine of high school to the flexibility of a college schedule.

"You seem to have this abundance of time, but therein comes the challenge of managing that time well," he says. "Those who remained in school obviously did a better job of that than those who didn't stay in.

"I remember taking a calculus class my second quarter — we were on quarters then — that started at 8 o'clock in the morning. That was not pretty!"

After receiving his Tech diploma, he enrolled at Georgia State University where he earned a master's of accountancy degree in 1982.

Blythe got his first taste of the restaurant business when he was a teenager, working at a Burger King, the Bake Shop at Rich's and at a local diner in his hometown. While a student at Tech, he started working part-time at Chick-fil-A's corporate office.

"I was the 14th employee they hired," he remembers. "Other than family members, I think I'm the most senior staff member at Chick-fil-A now.

"We were really small back then. We had about 40 restaurants and $12 million in revenue. This past year we have 1,700 restaurants and revenues top $5 billion."

Georgia Tech has undergone a few changes over the years as well, Blythe notes. In terms of size, depth of the curriculum and prestige, "all those things have just continued to get better for Georgia Tech," he said, adding that the quality of Tech students has risen substantially as well.

"They've done nothing but get smarter," Blythe says. "They're really, really bright young people. A lot of us from my era are glad we were able to go to Tech when we did because we're not sure we could get in today."

Blythe is doing his part to support the Scheller College and promote access to a Tech education. He and his wife established the Connie and Roger Blythe Jr. Scholarship, which is awarded to undergraduate students who are U.S. citizens and qualify for the Dean’s Scholarship Program. He is a member of the Scheller Collage Advisory Board and also serves as chair of the Georgia Tech Fellowship of Christian Athletes Board.

Reflecting on the past 38 years with Chick-fil-A, Blythe says, "The owners, the Cathy family, are tremendous, and it's a wonderful company. I've had a great career."

Plus, he gets Sundays off!


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