GP Ramage

Colin Ramage talks about winning C-U's Got Talent while at his desk Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, at Busey Bank in Champaign.

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Despite it being a few years, performing in front of an audience is nothing new for Colin Ramage. The Busey Bank commercial credit underwriter and Habitat for Humanity board treasurer who ended 2019 on a high note — getting married, going on a honeymoon, receiving a promotion at work and being asked to serve on the Habitat board — dusted off his microphone for this year’s C-U’s Got Talent and came out on top. The winner of last Saturday’s fundraiser met with The News-Gazette’s Alexandria Kobryn to talk balance, love and dinosaurs.

What inspired you to participate in C-U’s Got Talent? Do you have a history in singing or the arts?

I was asked by Christine Nevitt at Busey, who is a member of Champaign West Rotary, if I was willing to perform because she knew that I had experience with performing. I’ve been performing since I was very young, probably 7 or 8, in theater and music. I was in choir, Madrigals and drama in high school, and I was in the Xtension Chords at the University of Illinois. The Xtension Chords are an all-male a cappella group at the university. I’ve done a lot of performing, but the few minutes before the show never seem to get any easier. I’ve been out of practice for a few years as well, so it was especially nerve-wracking that night. It was really exciting to feel that rush again. I’m hoping to be able to continue performing more often again moving forward.

Why did you choose the song “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies?

It’s a song I’ve been meaning to learn for a while, and I thought it would be a fun and upbeat song to do for this event. I knew there were several other singers in the lineup and decided that I would try to bring something different to the performance to keep the audience engaged. I thought One Week would fit the bill nicely!

Tell me about what you do at Busey.

I’m a commercial credit underwriter, so I analyze the financial performance of companies and individuals looking for commercial financing. That includes understanding the finances of a company, but also understanding their business models, what sorts of challenges they may face and how the economy at large affects their day-to-day operations. I spend a lot of time looking through audits and reports on various companies and, on a basic level, making recommendations to credit officers and lenders on whether a loan Busey makes will be paid back.

You were recently asked to serve on the board of Habitat for Humanity ... when did you first start working with Habitat and why?

I ran into Becky Preston, the EVP of Growth Strategies and Bank Administration at Busey last July, and she mentioned that Habitat was looking for a new treasurer for its board. Some of the other members had asked around at Busey to see if anyone was interested or able, and Becky proposed that I look into it. I had only ever been to one build site before joining the board, but I knew of the organization and thought it might be a good opportunity to help out! I’ve really enjoyed getting involved, and I hope I’ve been of some use during my tenure. It’s been an incredible and humbling experience to learn how much there was to learn.

How do you balance your work, Habitat, love and personal life?

I do my best to make sure work stays at work. I’m not always successful, but that way I can focus on doing things like Habitat and pursuing personal interests while I’m not there. Aside from that, I credit Megan with keeping our lives organized! We’ve found that deliberately scheduling down time without events or other people has really helped us to keep up with everything. Sometimes we need time for ourselves, and sometimes it’s just time to catch up on laundry!

How did you meet your wife, Megan?

I met my wife while working at the University of Illinois Community Credit Union. I was working part-time during college and grad school, and she came back into the teller department from working in another area. She spent the first day we worked together quizzing me about who I was, where I was from, what I liked, etc. I was the new guy in the department that she didn’t know … at least that’s how she explained it then. I think she just thought I was cute! From there we started spending more time together and enjoying each other’s company while I worked up the courage to ask her out. While I was busy working up the courage, she got impatient and asked if I was ever going to ask her out. I got myself in gear, and we’ve been together ever since!

If you could go back in time to a specific event, when and what would it be?

I would go back fairly recently to be able to sit in on meetings at the Federal Reserve and the White House while the Great Recession took place. I would find it really interesting to listen to how all of these decisions were made to try to stop this massive meltdown from happening. From an economic perspective, it would be interesting to know, but I’m primarily interested in the leadership aspect of all of it. How do you make decisions on something so complex when a flood of information is coming at you, particularly if you’re not an expert in the subject? How do you decide things that have such a resounding effect throughout the world when the pressure is really on? I’m regularly floored by the number of things high-level leaders have to make decisions on, so getting some insight on how it went in one of the most stressful times in the last few decades would be really exciting.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a paleontologist. I loved dinosaurs and the Jurassic Park movies and was absolutely obsessed until I was older than I’d like to admit. I still love Jurassic Park, and my mom and I now have a tradition of forwarding videos to each other of people in those T-Rex blow-up outfits doing crazy stuff.