CEO of Retail Financial Services, TIAA

People who are used to doing something a certain way — and succeeding — often balk at being asked to do it differently. Without a deft touch from management, morale can suffer.

Such is the challenge of a large organization undergoing change. Kathie Andrade took on that challenge after TIAA promoted her to chief executive of its retail financial services business in January. In an effort to improve customer service, she set out to reorganize the 2,600-employee unit, integrating teams with their own unique cultures.

Each of the groups was making strides, but with little collaboration or shared strategy. So Andrade centralized the customer experience and digital functions in new divisions and set shared targets for growth across the business. Many employees were assigned to different supervisors and given new objectives.

To foster cohesiveness, Andrade took the time to bring her new leaders and their teams together to talk about their work and identify their challenges and goals.

Though uncomfortable, the changes are designed to make the business — which provides financial advice, college savings, life insurance and banking services to TIAA's 5 million individual clients — run more smoothly. It's easier to collaborate when teams work in the same location, for example, and customers appreciate having a single point of contact, especially one empowered to make decisions.

The experience prepared Andrade well for another big integration challenge ahead for TIAA — the company announced in August that it had agreed to buy EverBank in Jacksonville, Fla., for $2.5 billion.

The acquisition would add $27 billion of bank assets, access to low-cost deposits, greater expertise in mortgages and a strong digital platform that should help Andrade's unit win over millennials.

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