Few have the perspective of an Augusta University education that Mike Polatty (BBA ’80) has. After starting at then-Augusta College, he transferred to the University of Georgia for a couple of semesters before returning.
“There’s no comparison to the quality of the education you get in the size classrooms we have here,” he says. “Coming back, I didn’t feel like I was giving up anything.”
Graduating with an accounting degree, he went into public accounting in Augusta, spent about 10 years in private accounting in Florida, then returned and signed on with Meybohm Real Estate as an in-house CPA, eventually climbing to the rank of president and chief executive officer — largely, he jokes, because everyone around him retired.
“When I started at Meybohm I was the youngest person in management,” he says. “There’s a little bit of magic in being a hard worker: Everybody retires around you, and you’re still around.”
Both he and his wife, Linda, have battled cancer; consequently, the 2019 Distinguished Alumnus from the James M. Hull College of Business began supporting the Georgia Cancer Center both financially as well as by serving with other local leaders to assist with raising funds for the university and the Cancer Center.
“We had some powerful reference points for cancer,” he says. “When I saw what other people had done and how generous they had been, I knew we needed to do whatever we could to grow the Cancer Center.”
Never settle for anything other than what you see yourself doing with your life, because if you do anything else, you can be unhappy, and we spend too much of our lives working to be unhappy at work.
When you’ve been in Augusta as long as I have, you’ve certainly seen incredible growth, but I don’t think anyone really grasps the growth that is going to come in the next 10 or 15 years. I think it’s going to be an amazing time to be living and working in Augusta.
I come from a family of hard workers. My mother, who is in her 80s, is still working every day.
I got a good education from AU, and I just love to work. I love showing up early, staying late, doing my homework and outworking my competitors.
I went through a bout of cancer a few years back, and that really made me want to get involved and do some things to support the Georgia Cancer Center. Now that everything’s merged together, that’s my college. I want to do everything I can to support them, because that’s where I got my education.