Most Powerful Women in Banking: No. 21, Fifth Third's Teresa Tanner

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Chief Administrative Officer, Fifth Third Bancorp

After climbing to the top of her field in human resources, Teresa Tanner began to feel stuck.

It was a surprising feeling, given that at the time Tanner was receiving national media attention for a wellness program she created to provide concierge services to new mothers. Still, as chief human resources officer, she had few options available to her if she wanted to continue moving upward.

So she made a decision: It was time to expand her skill set and get out of HR.

Tanner hired someone else as HR chief and relinquished responsibility for that role. She used the extra bandwidth to expand her duties elsewhere, taking on central operations, which includes back-office functions, such as check processing and call center operations. And she formed a culture team, which will oversee projects such as the design of open-office workspaces.

She now oversees 3,000 employees, in areas ranging from marketing to economic development, at the $140 billion-asset Fifth Third.

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According to Tanner, many women who reach the C-Suite often feel stuck, given that there are few opportunities left for big promotions. But proactively finding new ways to grow — and asking for new responsibilities — is an effective way to handle it.

“Not everything has to be upward to make a difference,” Tanner said. “You want to rotate to a new type of value.”

Tanner said that she enjoys the challenge of overseeing a new team — particularly one that focuses on fostering a culture of innovation at such a critical time in banking. “Part of the magic of a career is being open to change,” she said.

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