The 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking
Chairman and CEO, KeyCorp
Beth Mooney has made history as the first female CEO of a top 20 U.S. banking company, but when her career is over she most wants to be remembered as a banker who made a difference.
She's proud that KeyCorp's profits and share price have risen steadily since she took the helm in 2011, and equally proud that it is the only large bank in the country to have earned an "outstanding" rating from regulators on its community reinvestment activities for eight consecutive years — dating to when she ran Key's community bank.
She's proud, too, that the company's charitable arm gave away $18 million last year and that its small-dollar loan product has been praised by banking regulators and consumer advocates for meeting a need without trapping consumers in a cycle of debt.
President, BNY Mellon
Last year's No. 1 Woman to Watch, Karen Peetz is this year's No. 2 Most Powerful Woman in Banking. It's a customary for spot for Peetz, who had been a fixture among the top five for years and was ranked No. 1 in 2011.
As president of the world's largest custody bank, a role she assumed in early 2013, Peetz oversees global and regional client management, treasury services, growth initiatives and innovation, as well as the most complex regulatory issues. She reports directly to Chairman and CEO Gerald Hassell and is a member of the company's executive committee.
Peetz no longer chairs the Women's Initiative Network she founded in 2004, but she continues to actively mentor women throughout the firm. She is currently the executive sponsor of Impact, BNY Mellon's employee resource group that is focused on the recruitment, development and retention of multi-cultural talent.
Chief Financial Officer, JPMorgan Chase
Few banking executives in the country have as much on their plates these days as Marianne Lake. Apart from her primary duties of overseeing the company's financial matters, its investor relations and its capital strategy, Lake has taken it upon herself to manage the stress-testing process, a duty many bank CFOs have handed off to subordinates. Since taking over as CFO in 2013, she's also had to deal with myriad regulatory issues, including last year's $13 billion mortgage settlement.
Yet amid all that she has to contend with in the present, Lake is constantly looking toward the future. With the blessing of the board and CEO Jamie Dimon, she is overseeing the development of a new financial infrastructure that would better integrate the finance and risk functions and give the company more accurate views of customer relationships. It's an expensive, multiyear endeavor, but one she insists is crucial to improving its modeling and risk management.
Lake is the highest-ranking woman at JPMorgan Chase and is actively engaged in helping other women there get ahead. Last year she co-founded Women on the Move, a program within the company that aims to help remove common barriers that prevent women from moving up the ladder.
Vice Chairman, Payment Services, U.S. Bancorp
The mentoring program Pamela Joseph started in 2010 for leaders in U.S. Bancorp's payment services division has yielded some crucial insights.
Most of the women had not received any leadership coaching or development during their career. Many women who rose through the ranks also struggled to let go of the tactical detail work for which they were rewarded in the first place and simply added new responsibilities on top of old ones.
The leadership training Joseph championed — which began with 26 of the highest-ranking female leaders in payment services and grew to encompass 59 of them in 2013 — helps them identify the types of behaviors that could be holding them back so they can better blossom as leaders.
Joseph says she notices some differences in how men and women approach their careers. For example, she sees a lot of women asking for additional training as a way to get more comfortable with moving up. "It's almost a placebo effect," she says. "'I have been trained and therefore I am.'"
Joseph's team is a major source of innovation at U.S. Bancorp. Two key areas of focus lately have been electronic chips in cards and services in mobile banking. By the end of 2015, over half of the bank's cards will have chips on them, and read a chip at the point of sale.
Her business line's net revenue grew by $46 million in 2013. Joseph has overseen an expanded global reach, which included a new joint venture in Spain with Banco Santander and continued growth in Brazil and Mexico. She also strengthened the company's business-to-business products in merchant services and corporate payments.
Senior EVP, Community Banking, Wells Fargo
Motivation isn't a problem for Carrie Tolstedt. "As I go to my office each day, I pass by a stagecoach in our lobby" — a powerful reminder, she says, of Wells Fargo's stability, based on a century and a half of zeroing in on what people want from a bank.
One of the newest measures that Tolstedt has for how well she delivers on what people want is something Wells calls "customer intensity." The concept of customer intensity was developed as a way to distill insight from data on how and when the bank's nearly 25 million retail, small-business and business-banking households, all of which are under Tolstedt's care, access accounts, make payments, search for information, buy new products and do any number of other things at the bank. The more customers do, the more "intense" they are, so to speak. The bottom line: high-intensity customers are nearly twice as likely to purchase a product each year, have a higher retention rate, are more likely to refer someone else to the bank and are 70 percent more profitable. Tolstedt says about 25 percent of the bank's customers are in the high-intensity zone, which gives the 105,000 team members she leads plenty of opportunity to grow the business.
Tolstedt, named by Fortune magazine as one of the 50 most powerful women in business for 2013, began her career with Norwest Bank in Nebraska in 1986. After a brief period with FirstMerit Corp., she returned to Norwest before the 1998 merger with Wells. She was appointed to her current role in June 2007.
With the largest branch network in the U.S., Wells has ample opportunity and incentive to stress diversity. In 2013, Tolstedt's Community Banking unit sponsored 215 people through the company's Enterprise Diverse Leaders Programs; more than half of them were women.
Senior EVP, head of consumer lending, Wells Fargo
In more ways than one, "diversity" has been a watchword in Avid Modjtabai's career. During her 20 years at Wells Fargo, she has been involved in — and often the head of — consumer deposits, technology and operations, Internet services, and human resources.
As head of consumer lending since 2011, Modjtabai oversees everything from auto loans to mortgages to credit cards. Her 70,000-plus team members serve more than 33 million households.
The consumer lending industry has undergone significant reform in recent years, but Modjtabai's group has delivered solid results under a multiyear strategy to transform the business into a growth engine. That's saying something, given that Wells is already the nation's largest mortgage lender and services one in five U.S. home loans. Wells also became the No. 1 auto lender in 2013, with a 6% market share.
Modjtabai says diversity is a competitive advantage and necessary to reflect Wells' customer base. She personally inspects the candidate pool for key senior-level roles to ensure diversity in the selection process. In 2013, her group increased ethnic diversity by 6% across the top four management levels, and the ratio of female leaders increased by 5%
Global Technology and Operations Executive, Bank of America
To say Cathy Bessant has a big job would be an understatement. She leads a business unit comparable in size and budget to some of the largest corporations in the country, and her responsibilities grew further in April when the unit absorbed Bank of America's consumer and mortgage-servicing operations. The number of employees and contractors she's responsible for surged to 124,000.
The responsibilities she takes on in the community are outsized too, but she would not have it any other way. Bessant says she is a firm believer that volunteer work makes better bankers. Her charitable and civic work also has helped her build deep connections with business leaders in the Carolinas. "At the end of the day people do business with people, and the opportunity to create relationships and expand networks is very important," she says.
Bessant's activities include having just completed a five-year term as board president of the nonprofit Foundation for the Carolinas, a $1.3 billion community-development fund. Bankers who have served on the board with Bessant include former Wachovia CEO G. Kennedy Thompson, ex-GMAC CEO Alvaro de Molina and Wells Fargo's Laura Schulte, along with influential people in other fields. "I don't walk into many rooms in North Carolina where I don't know a lot of the people there," Bessant says.
Talking with her fellow board members also provided a crucial outlet for her amid the stress of the financial crisis. "During the toughest years in banking I would have been lost if not for the offset of my civic work," she says. "Imagine the opportunity to go every other month and sit with important, caring, inspirational people. What a rejuvenation."
Senior EVP, Retail and Banking Director, Huntington Bancshares
The businesses Mary Walworth Navarro leads generate nearly half of Huntington's total revenue. But her contributions to the company go well beyond the basic numbers, to how it actually conducts business.
As the leader of the retail and business operations, Navarro has helped craft a "fair play" approach that looks out for customers in some key ways, whether by making it easy to avoid overdraft fees with a "24-Hour Grace" period, or by giving them a say in how to reap rewards on the bank's Voice Credit Card, which launched last September and is expected to beat income forecasts by 58%.
Navarro also has shrewdly created a thriving business within Giant Eagle and Meijer supermarkets. Of the 8 % growth in new households the company experienced year-over-year for 2013, more than a third has come from in-store efforts — despite the fact that those branches represent only 20% of the overall network.
Chairman, CEO and President, Ally Bank
Barbara Yastine has helped take Ally Bank from its origins as the troubled GMAC Bank to a rapidly growing and profitable online banking franchise. Deposit growth has been key; in July, Ally passed the $40 billion threshold in deposits, up from $12.3 billion five years ago when the bank was re-launched under its current name.
Yastine had an unusual start on her path to becoming a top financial-services executive. She always liked math growing up, but as an undergraduate at New York University, she majored in journalism, because, she says, "I had no idea where math could lead."
Less than a year after graduating, however, she gave in to her quantitative side, returning to NYU for an MBA in business. She doesn't regret the journalism training, though. "It gave me an enormous advantage in being able to listen and communicate, which I still benefit from today," she says.
Yastine's biggest time commitment outside of work is raising her 10-year-old twin daughters. She and her husband, John Damonti, who runs the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, adopted the children on their 15th wedding anniversary. "I got a late start on motherhood," says Yastine, 54. "Like every other working mom in America, I'm just trying to keep it together."
President and CEO, The Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank
When Dorothy Savarese says, without a trace of hyperbole, "I now have the perfect job," it's hard not to believe her. And it isn't just because her relatively small Massachusetts bank — $2.5 billion in assets — regularly outperforms its much larger competitors.
She is a tireless community leader and volunteer, serving a wealth of organizations, not just regionally but nationally. One is the American Bankers Association, for which she was recently nominated as vice chairman of the board of directors.
She applies that same sense of outreach to the 432 employees she leads. Borrowing a concept from architectural schools, she conducted a charette at her bank, bringing together 50 employees from all levels to investigate ways of streamlining customer interactions. "One longtime employee noted it was the best bank meeting she had ever attended," Savarese says.
The charette process — which is a period of intense study on a particular topic and which Savarese used successfully in her prior career as a consultant — included regional follow-up meetings, a flurry of emails and a dedication to monitoring progress. "We discover things that we would not have known about if we were just sitting in a room brainstorming," she says. Her team found, for example, that customers often had to produce the same information more than once if they were opening multiple accounts. Some employees had developed effective ways to avoid this duplication, but it had not been shared companywide. Eliminating that sort of negative customer experience is a key goal of the charette, and will continue to be. The process began in March 2014 and is still ongoing. "It is being built into how we do business," Savarese says.
Savarese's dynamic approach has earned her plenty of recognition in the industry. In October 2013 she was a keynote speaker at a community banking conference in St. Louis, opened by then-Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Global Head of Payments and Cash Management, HSBC
It's because of people like Diane Reyes that multinational companies are able to transact smoothly and safely with one another. The global payments and cash management division she heads at HSBC operates in over 60 countries and territories and generates $7.1 billion in revenue. It clears the most transactions in British pounds of any bank in the world, and ranks third for clearing services in U.S. dollars.
Reyes is also sharing her expertise outside the company, with an eye to improving the security and efficacy of global payments systems. For example, she is helping spur research and debate around nonbank financial institutions getting involved in clearing and settlement services through her role on the Payments Risk Committee of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
A former Citigroup executive, Reyes joined HSBC in September 2011 and assumed additional responsibilities this year that include oversight of the digital strategy for the Global Banking & Markets and Commercial Banking units and of the resolution and recovery payments planning team.
Reyes is the executive sponsor of the Women's Accelerated Development Program at HSBC's global commercial bank, which offers targeted development for senior women with a goal of achieving promotions within 18 months. The program has helped define HSBC's approach to grooming talent. Membership now includes more than 200 people, including about 20 from Reyes' teams.
CEO of Chase Card Services, JPMorgan Chase
The card business is facing intense scrutiny and regulatory pressure, but Eileen Serra is turning those challenges into opportunities to improve.
She made enhancing the compliance capabilities at Chase Card Services a top priority, hiring a chief controls officer, redeploying 300 employees to focus on the heightened controls effort and evaluating all of its processes. This involved putting other projects on hold and even closing several product lines, but the effects of streamlining the business have been so positive that some of these activities are being replicated elsewhere within JPMorgan Chase.
The results have been not only improved compliance, but all-time highs in customer satisfaction. There are now dramatically fewer issues affecting customers, and simplifying and automating processes improved their overall experience. Chase is the highest-rated Visa and MasterCard issuer in J.D. Power's 2014 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study and had the largest gains of any card company over a three-year period. It ranked third overall, behind American Express and Discover.
Chase Card Services' business has 20,000 employees, serves 50 million customers and handled $420 billion in transactions last year. In 2013, Serra's first full year as CEO, new account openings increased 9%, sales volume went up 10% and net chargeoffs fell 4%.
Global Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer, Bank of America
As head of strategy and marketing at Bank of America, Anne Finucane is responsible for protecting the company's image. It's been a tough job in recent years, and was made even tougher in August when the company agreed to pay $16 billion to settle disputes with federal and state authorities over its sale of mortgage-backed securities.
Still, Finucane is succeeding, thanks in part to initiatives like a recent effort to boost AIDS awareness through a partnership with the band U2. Financial education is another topic Finucane has the company promoting through a joint initiative with the nonprofit Kahn Academy. This has produced a popular set of videos (viewed 16 million times in all) that seek to "demystify money." The combined efforts seem to be moving the needle on BofA's image, as metrics like customer- and employee-satsifaction and overall brand impression have improved in the past year.
Despite the many demands of her job, Finucane has committed to an array of causes. She is on the boards of the Harvard Kennedy School's Dean's Council, the National Association of Corporate Directors and the Women at NBC Universal Advisory Board. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
EVP, Retail Banking, Zions First National Bank
LeeAnne Linderman says that the 16 years she spent working in department stores prepared her well for a career in banking. "By the time the merchandise hits the stores, you're already looking at the next two seasons out, and you're seeing where trends are going, beyond what's just hitting the stores. So your mind is always forward."
She says that learning how to anticipate trends has given her an edge in the banking industry where consumers and businesses are changing their behavior rapidly. She oversees all client-facing channels at Zions, including its 126 branches, online and mobile banking, and ATMs.
As one of the top female executives at Zions, Linderman has been instrumental in developing mentoring groups for the women who work there. In 2007, she helped found the Zions Bank Women's Business Forum, a group of officers from throughout Utah and Idaho who meet quarterly to discuss career development and leadership issues.
President and CEO, Columbia Banking System
Columbia Banking System in Tacoma, Wash., is vocal about its ambition of becoming a regional player in the Pacific Northwest, and it is moving toward that objective at a rapid clip. In 2013, Columbia bought the $2.4 billion-asset West Coast Bancorp in Lake Oswego, Ore. This summer, it announced plans to expand into Idaho with the $121.5 million purchase of Intermountain Community Bancorp. The deal, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter, would boost Columbia's assets to $8.2 billion and give it 150 branches in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
CEO Melanie Dressel has set an ambitious goal for herself as she engineers this expansion: to remain personally involved with each one of its branches. Getting to every branch at least once a year will require Dressel to log a lot of miles on the road. But in-person visits are worth the effort, because they forge "a sense of trust" with employees, she says.
Getting feedback from staffers at each branch can also help Columbia management design more effective strategies and targeted goals. "We want to engender a culture where we can make informed decisions based upon what is going on in the real world," Dressel says.
EVP, Head of National Corporate Specialized Industries and Global Treasury Management, U.S. Bancorp
The wholesale world has gotten bigger for Leslie Godridge, who has headed U.S. Bancorp's corporate and institutional banking since 2007. In February, Godridge's ambit was extended to also include the bank's Global Treasury Management business and she has wasted no time reorganizing, streamlining processes and cutting costs. Asked about her style and approach, Godridge says: "I look at the financials, I look at the margins compared to similar businesses, and I look line by line to see what's out of whack and ask why things are organized the way they are. Reorganizing does not happen overnight."
Godridge has carved out 11 groups by industry type within wholesale banking and each one will be assigned its own metrics and goals. "We approach with a solution and show clients how they can better manage Treasury operations. This is different, because we are consulting, not selling."
For perspective on how far U.S. Bancorp has already come, it was the ninth busiest book-runner In terms of number of financing transactions completed in 2013, according to data from Thomson Reuters. Those deals include asset-backed financing, commercial real estate credit, equipment leasing and commercial-dealer loans, to name a few. As for back in 2007, U.S. Bancorp didn't even crack the top 20.
Women's progress in the industry is bringing tangible business benefits, among them the development of stronger relationships with clients, Godridge says. But she argues that further progress requires active effort from the leaders and companies in the industry: "Women need to see others at senior levels making sure that there is support to advance. It just can't happen unless there is support."
For those aiming to move ahead in their careers, Godridge's experience offers a couple of lessons: If you want to advance, say so. And don't waste time holding out for the perfect opportunity.
"After I reached a certain level, I became more vocal about wanting to do more. I did not exclude anything. Some people think there is a specific step to make it to the next position, and they are pickier. Not me."
EVP, Head of Global Transaction Banking, Scotiabank
Global transaction bankers know all about cross-border operations. So it makes sense that Scotiabank's Alberta Cefis is dedicated to breaking down barriers in her professional and philanthropic efforts.
Cefis, who serves as head of global transaction banking at the Canadian lender, founded the Women in Global Transaction Banking initiative in 2007 in order to connect women in her line of business. The group operates in more than 55 countries and includes members from a variety of banks, with each geographical region offering an array of forums for women to discuss topics like career advancement, leadership and maintaining work/life balance.
Cefis also founded the GTB@Work in the Community program at Scotiabank, which fosters teamwork through volunteering. In Canada, employees work at food banks and plant green rooftop gardens, while in Lima, Peru, the team developed a program at a women's cooperative to help women learn how to build websites and do financial accounting.
Meanwhile, Cefis continues working to smash gender barriers on her own team. In 2013, 48% of the 19 people on her executive team were women, and women were chosen to fill all three vacant vice president positions.
EVP, Branch Network, Keycorp
Maria Coyne has spent the better part of the last two years reorganizing KeyBank's sprawling branch network and various aspects of its retail and small-business lines. The results speak for themselves.
Loans were up 6%, and checking account production increased by 25% in the first quarter this year compared to the same period last year. Business loans jumped 52%.
Simplifying the company's hierarchy was the first step. Coyne removed a layer of middle management and consolidated 23 districts into nine regions. Branch staff was optimized around busy hours. In all, 100 branches were closed and headcount was cut by 900.
To boost productivity, Coyne created a "branch playbook" with mandatory daily activities, such as "morning huddles" and "daily cool-downs." Staff incentives were honed to center around five core metrics — as opposed to 16 before — with an emphasis on deepening customer relationships.
In an effort to improve service and provide a clearer career path for top talent, Coyne created two specialist roles, one for small business and another that offers investment advice for retail clients. With the bank's new emphasis on coaching and helping branch teams flourish, employees who aspire to advance can now look forward to pursuing bigger jobs in business or private banking.
President, Eastern Region, Community Banking, Wells Fargo
As head of Wells Fargo's eastern region, Laura Schulte oversees more than a third of the bank's footprint. The territory in her charge extends from Connecticut down to Florida and into most states east of the Mississippi. It encompasses over 2,700 stores and 32,000 employees.
Schulte was given the additional responsibility in 2013 of leading the group that focuses on creating a better customer experience at the bank. The strength of her leadership is particularly evident in two areas of recent focus: cross-selling and bolstering business with affluent consumers. Credit card penetration grew 59% from the fourth quarter of 2011 through the first quarter of 2014, reaching 31% of households.
Meanwhile, deepening the partnership with Wells Fargo Wealth, Brokerage and Retirement has multiplied business with the affluent. Investment balances stemming from branch referrals had a 31% compound annual growth rate since 2011. Key to those efforts is a new staffing strategy her team launched that adds a dedicated private banker and financial advisor to branches located in affluent areas. These so-called "affluent high-opportunity stores" serve three times the number of affluent households as the average Wells branch.
President, Mortgages, Fifth Third Bancorp
Michelle Van Dyke is respected throughout Fifth Third Bancorp for her ability to drive results and develop talent. That's why in early September the Cincinnati company announced that it was promoting Van Dyke from regional banking president, overseeing operations in Michigan, Indiana and parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Missouri, to president of its mortgage unit.
Other market presidents have routinely raided Van Dyke's region for talent, due in large part to a leadership program she created. Since 2010, nearly 500 of the region's employees have moved on to bigger jobs in other Fifth Third markets. That leadership program is now used throughout the company.
Van Dyke's considerable leadership skills are also highly valued outside the company. She serves on the boards of two universities and a health care network, and she is actively involved in Business Leaders for Michigan, a roundtable of top business leaders whose mission is to help grow Michigan's economy.
Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Financial Officer, Royal Bank of Canada
Royal Bank of Canada has ranked among the best-performing banking companies in North America over the last couple of years and ex-CEO Gord Nixon says that Janice Fukakusa, its chief financial officer and chief administrative officer, deserves much of the credit for its recent success. Her skillful integration last year of two major acquisitions was a big reason why RBC posted record profits in 2013 and a company-wide efficiency management project she spearheaded is driving cost savings. "Janice is an outstanding leader and she's been instrumental in developing, enabling and executing our strategy," says Nixon, who retired in August. "Beyond excelling at traditional finance, she's a strong strategic partner with a keen business mind and a forward-looking view." Fukakusa has many fans outside of RBC as well. Earlier this year, she was named Canada's CFO of the year as voted by her peers in the business community.
Global Head of Human Resources, Bank of America
Andrea Smith joined Bank of America in 1988 and was named global head of human resources four years ago, reporting directly to CEO Brian Moynihan. Smith manages a budget of $35 billion and oversees a workforce of some 240,000 people in 40 countries, but a big part of her job these days is finding ways to reduce overhead. Moynihan has set a goal of cutting expenses by $8 billion a year by mid-2015, and a big chunk of that will come from layoffs.
Of course, there will always be job openings at a company as large as BofA, and one of its key objectives is hiring more military veterans. Smith spearheaded the company's military recruitment efforts with the creation of a military affairs team in 2012 — an effort that helped to earn the company the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award in 2013. The goal is to hire 10,000 veterans over the next several years.
BofA also continues to be recognized as top place to work. It has achieved a 100% score on Human Rights Campaign's corporate equality index for eight straight years and was recently named among the 100 best companies to work for by Working Mother magazine.
Head of Global Corporate Banking, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
The focus in corporate banking is more emphatically on the word "global" since Anne Clarke Wolff became head of the unit in 2011. She has transformed the senior leadership team by recruiting seasoned veterans into key positions and refocused the group on the company's broad capabilities worldwide. The result is a business that has grown from being a dominant U.S. lender and underwriter into much more of a leading global player in areas like capital-raising and risk management.
An initiative she introduced in early 2013 called "Plus One" is helping fuel growth too. It encourages corporate bankers to expand existing relationships by adding new products. The idea is that revenue grows exponentially once a client exceeds a particular number of products. The corporate banking team in Europe and Emerging Markets has rolled out Plus One and already calls attention to every instance in which incremental business is added to an existing account. Now the U.S. global commercial banking team has picked up the program as well.
President and CEO, First Bethany Bank & Trust
Talk to Jane Haskin about the responsibilities that go into being CEO of First Bethany Bank & Trust and you get a microcosm of the business of banking: one part account officer, one part technology advocate, one part head of operations. But ask what makes her job special and the talk turns to people.
While she wears many hats, Haskin says she makes sure to carve out time to mentor her employees. She tells of reaching out to a hard-working loan assistant to suggest that she take advantage of a tuition-reimbursement program for staffers pursuing banking-related degrees at public universities.
"I asked her if she had any college hours and her reply was she wasn't a very good student in high school and had decided against college," Haskin says. "I told her I was very impressed with her work knowledge and asked if she would consider going to college and taking some classes that might help her become a credit analyst."
The loan assistant was touched by Haskin's suggestion. "No one had ever told her they thought of her as a smart person," Haskin says.
On bank matters, Haskin is committed to upgrading technology. The bank rolled out mobile remote deposit checking in 2013, and up next is a push to implement person-to-person payments.
She is confident these investments are paying off, estimating that First Bethany is saving $30,000 a year in postage, printing and paper costs.
Vice Chairman, FirstMerit Corp.; Chairman and CEO, FirstMerit Michigan
After FirstMerit bought Citizens Republic Bancorp last year, adding branches in Michigan and Wisconsin and nearly doubling the bank's headcount to over 5,000, Sandy Pierce helped lead an effort to hold sit-down meetings with employees across the entire region. The purpose was to hear from workers on the ground what needs to be improved.
Since the beginning of this year, Pierce has met with "hundreds and hundreds" of employees across FirstMerit's five states, usually in groups of around a dozen at a time, she says. These meetings are held to let employees speak candidly, without fear of reprisal, about their concerns, and to get input about what works and what needs to be improved. "I really ask two questions: 'What's going well?' and 'What do we still need to work on to make this the best bank in the Midwest?'" she says.
The employee input has led to changes both small and large. One reform: the bank made it possible for call-center employees to address more customer issues without going up the ladder to FirstMerit's tech and operations group.
The feedback also led to the establishment of an initiative that is designed to ensure top-quality customer service and to harmonize the bank's internal culture.
In addition, the bank established a group to work on solving larger problems identified by employees, changes that require end-to-end reengineering of internal processes.
Successful. Influential. Innovative. These women are driving results at their institutions, and paving the way for the female talent behind them.
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