It didn't take Lynn Pike long to make an impact at Capital One Financial Corp.

Six months after becoming the president of Capital One's bank, Pike said she would like to see the company make another acquisition to start bridging "the white space" between far-flung operations along the Gulf Coast and Northeast. "Honestly, I would say the footprint seems weird" and hard to manage, she said at the time.

Her vision was realized when the $171.9 billion-asset McLean, Va., company swooped in to buy Maryland's Chevy Chase Bank last December. The move placed Capital One among the nation's 10-biggest banks by deposits and increased the size of its branch network to more than 730 locations.

Pike calls the move an opportunistic one. She says she and CEO Richard Fairbank "were equally intrigued by the value of adding Chevy Chase. For me, it was a compelling opportunity to get a leading bank in a resilient market with excellent talent."

Pike's reward? Oversight of Chevy Chase's integration while also making sure that the company's complex assimilations of Hibernia Bank and North Fork Bank progress smoothly. The process included a massive systems integration and launching a new corporate brand and marketing campaign.

Pike is also responsible for retooling the management structure at Capital One Bank, creating a system where executives simultaneously manage markets and business lines. The dual-role system closely resembles that of Bank of America, where Pike was president of business banking before joining Capital One in April 2007.

Banking had been a lifelong pursuit for Pike since she saw her grandparents get a loan. "It was a rare opportunity to witness your family getting the means they needed to make their dreams come true," she says. "Banking is a profession that allows you to have a positive impact and help change people's lives for the better."

That may explain Pike's positive attitude even as the struggling U.S. economy and related credit defaults have not been friendly to her efforts. Capital One's local banking segment has posted three straight quarters in the red, though it was a narrow loss in the second quarter. Still, nonperforming assets made up 2.35 percent of total loans at midyear, compared to 0.81 percent a year earlier.

Pike says the environment hasn't changed her overall view of "good banking" or diminished her long-term view of the industry. "We have been prudent in our decision making," she says.

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