Chief Talent and Culture Executive, BBVA Compass

Rosilyn Houston insists that her new job as BBVA Compass' head of human resources is not all that different from her previous one running consumer and commercial banking for the bank's north Texas region.

Even though the old role came with P&L responsibilities and the new one does not, Houston said the job still comes down to managing — and getting the most out of — employees. "I've always said this; my job is to make sure I have happy employees. It's to make them feel good about the brand, have access to training and development and access to the tools and resources they need to do their jobs," she said. In the new role — her official title is chief talent and culture executive — "I've just had to cast a wider net," she said.

Houston has been one of the bank's star performers in recent years. She headed retail banking in the east region from 2011 to 2014 and over that time the region — which includes Florida and Alabama — outperformed all of the bank's other regions in several key categories, including efficiency ratio and operating profit. It also had the highest customer satisfaction scores with the company for three years running. On her watch, the north Texas region she ran for parts of 2014 and 2015 led all the other regions in operating profit.

In her new role, Houston reports to BBVA Compass Chairman and Chief Executive Manolo Sanchez and to Donna DeAngeles, the global head of talent and culture for the bank's Spanish parent, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria. Announcing her appointment last year, Sanchez described Houston as "optimistic, engaging and energetic," and lauded her ability to get results. "She has a gift for bringing out the best in everyone around her, and her trademark enthusiasm makes her a great fit for this role," he said.

Chief among Houston's new responsibilities is improving employee engagement, which she said she will do by emphasizing "people before strategy." That means involving associates in discussions about strategy to get early buy-in on what the bank aims to accomplish. It also means fostering a more entrepreneurial spirit throughout the $88 billion-asset organization. "As business leaders we get into a room and we think about a strategic plan, but we forget that it requires humans to execute on that plan and be successful," she said. "When you engage your people in the process, you are going to have automatic buy-in, and you get a better outcome."

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