Tests of home banking and teller machines in the '70s *foreshadowed the massive changes that lay ahead. When she started in banking 25 years ago, could Linda Parker have foreseen the *technological changes that would shift banking from the branch to the desktop? Arguably, yes. Before starting at now-defunct Peoples Bank in Seattle in 1971, Ms. Parker, now 46, majored in computer science and behavioral psychology at Stanford University. At the time, such academic backgrounds were rare in an industry run by people who didn't know a megabyte from a mainframe. Eager to land a job out of college in Seattle, where the troubles of Boeing Corp. helped push the unemployment rate to 17% Ms. Parker said it was a "total quirk" that she landed at a bank. After she filled out more than 30 applications, she went to Peoples, which happened to be hiring programmers. "I needed a paycheck," she recalled. Her unusual background seems to have served her well, preparing her for the consumer- and technology-driven business that banking has become. In 1988, Ms. Parker arrived at Oregon-based U.S. Bancorp via its acquisition of Peoples Bancorp., where she had managed consumer product development and marketing research. While at Peoples, Ms. Parker said she took a very hands-on role in helping to "architect systems from scratch." The installation of that bank's first automated tellers in 1976, and a short-lived experiment with home banking via interactive television in 1983, brought home to Ms. Parker the massive changes technology would bring. "I realized that there would be a day, as this gets easier and easier, that we'd have home banking," she said. After landing at U.S. Bank as a vice president, her job took a decidedly more consumer-oriented turn, as she took over the debit card area and began to focus more on electronic access. Now, as a senior vice president, she is finally helping to carry out the shift that she has seen in the making for the last two decades.
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